reviews

Everything I Never Told You – Spoiler Review

About the book:

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfil the dreams they were unable to pursue – in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting. When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest in the family – Hannah – who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.

(Good Reads)

My review:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .

…and hooked.

With that startling line, Celeste Ng pulls you into the world of the Lee family following the death of the middle child, Lydia. Jumping between the present time and different times in the past, the book tells the story of how they got there and the consequences of Lydia’s death. The writing is compelling and beautifully crafted, and it touches topics such as race, gender and family relations in the 1970s.

Even though it took me awhile to finish it, the story pulls you in and keeps you guessing until the very end. The jumps between times makes it even more interesting as it takes you from one point in time to another, completely different, but still connected. This book is perfect character study; at least six different characters that you get to know deeply with the great narrative of a third person omniscient narrator. One of the great things Celeste Ng does with her characters is that you can’t seem to point out if you like them or not, and sometimes, they are all pretty unlikable. Flawed and complex, growing from page to page, there is not a single simple character. They feel real.

The parents, James and Marilyn, got together for all the wrong reasons. He wanted to blend in like her; She wanted to stand out like him. How they made it work? They had children. If it weren’t for Marilyn getting pregnant, the kind of idealised love between those two would have ended way sooner. Eventually, they settled into their lives though nether really got what they wanted, you could say Marilyn lost more than James. She gave up her dream, and though she almost went back to it, she had to give it up once more, for she was pregnant again. Even if it’s not explicitly said, she must resent James in some way for it but instead of turning on him, she pushes her dream on her daughter, and did this until her daughter was gone and was forced to face reality. It had not been science that Lydia had loved and Marilyn finally realised who her daughter really was. James, on his part, faded into the background, even with his affair being a luring around, it’s almost as an afterthought. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him at a times, his affair a clear attempt to feel something that had disappeared with time on his marriage. His final fight with Marilyn was expected and unexpected at the same time. You wanted it, them two finally expressing the feelings they’ve had hidden for so long, but you feared it, leave things unsaid and keep going as nothing ever happened. Lydia’s death was a catalysis for many characters but it was the definitely the push these two needed to have a more stable, equal relationship.

Nath, Lydia’s big brother and the only one who understood her, until he didn’t anymore. I felt for Nath all throughout the story. He stood back, accepted that he was not the favourite child and would have to do everything himself. Still, he couldn’t shake the fact that even in his greatest achievement, Lydia was the centre. Deep down, you can tell he blames himself for what happens, even if he tries to find someone else to blame (a.k.a Jack). He turned his back on his sister, no matter why, he left her without the only person she thought would never leave her. Yes, I feel sorry for him, but he also made me angry when he turned his back on her. After everything, who could he do that?

Now, when you talk about Nath and Lydia, there’s someone else that comes into play, and that is Jack. The whole book I wanted to know why Nath hated him so much and what was up with Jack and his interest with Lydia and Nath. It did not realise what was going on until it was plain and obvious: Jack has been in love with Nath since they meet as children! I mean, could I have swoon louder? Yes, yes I could have. It pained me so much to see Jack suffer when Nath mistreated him but I had hope by the end. I had hope that on those final moments in the book, Nath realised and something good came out of it. Lydia knew, I think, and Hannah soon found out and tried to help. Regarding Jack himself, he was just the sweetest. Playboy who actually turns out to be a gay in the closet in love with the guy that sees him as the enemy? Yes, I loved him. He was a friend to Lydia when she needed one and suffered so much after her death. Only good things for him after the end. I pray.

Hannah, oh sweet, invisible Hannah. The little sister no one ever saw or cared about. I felt so bad for her. Always there but never noticed. She only wanted to be loved and close to her family. Taking things from them that she thought they loved was her way of being close to them. She finally got seen at the end, by her brother and her mother, even if it took Lydia dying for it to happen. In a way, she will get the unconditional love without demands that Lydia wished for.

Finally, we get to Lydia, the main protagonist who turns everyone’s lives around. Until the very end, even after the flashback scene with Nath in the lake, I thought she had committed suicide. That she had jumped into the lake to get away from the life she had made by giving up herself. But Lydia did not want to die. She wanted her life to change, like it had the first time she almost drowned in the lake, but there was no Nath to pull her out this time. Lydia wanted her mother to be happy and stay so she took her mother’s dream and made it her own because that’s what Marilyn wanted. She gave her own life for her family twice. As a child and when she died. Lydia did not know it would happen, but just as she had helped her mother stay, she helped her family deal with all their unspoken issues by dying. Do I agree with her decisions? Absolutely no. She should have stood up for herself, like Nath did by wanting to go to university away, instead of giving in to everything her parents wanted. But, in a way, I think I understand her and everything she did.

In conclusion, from beginning to end, Everything I Never Told You is a perfectly crafted book that will make you think and feel. It will not leave you indifferent. A must-read for everyone.

About the author:

Celeste Ng grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio. She attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan. Her debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, won the Hopwood Award, the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the American Library Association’s Alex Award. She is a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, and she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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reviews

Everything, Everything – Spoiler Review

The not-so tragic love story of two teenagers where one is sick (or is she?)

About the book:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

(Good Reads)

My review:

I’m a bit late to the Everything, Everything game but at least I got there, right? As someone who has read plenty of YA, and at one point thought that was the only books that appealed to me, this has been a bit disappointing. I’ll admit I started reading because I saw the film was coming out and, as a reader, I like to dive into the book before I watch the film. I was hoping for a sweet but sad love story between teenagers with a obviously happy ending (isn’t that how they always go?) but ended with this bittersweet aftertaste.

The problem? The book is incredibly predictable. I mean, it’s so obvious that Maddie is not actually sick that by half the book I was just impatiently waiting for the revelation like, come on, just get it over with! Taking into account the whole story is built around Maddie’s disease, this make for a big problem.

Now, the relationship between Olly and Maddie is cute and sweet and all you can expect from a YA book, including all the stereotypes and/or classic background plots: the new neighbours, the boy next door, the abusive father, the overprotective mother and so on and so on. The problem for me is precisely that: too many cliché all in one story. If you can move past it and keep reading, the outcome is ok. I mean, when it seems their relationship is over, BOOM, the secret is out. Maddie is and has always been healthy, or as healthy as an 18-year-old with the immune system of a newborn baby can be. I found the outcome of that particular plot point acceptable, even if Maddie forgiving her mother was far fetched for me. Sorry, but that woman didn’t deserve any forgiveness, grieving or not. But an ending to a teen book wouldn’t be complete without the two star-crossed lovers coming together for their riding into the sunset moment.

From the first meet-cute to the perfect happy ending, Everything, Everything has the essential elements for a lovely, sweet and dramatic story that will suck you in.

About the author:

Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.

 

reviews

The Sun and Her Flowers – Spoiler Review

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“this place makes me the kind of exhausted that has nothing to do with sleep and everything to do with the people around me – introvert”

About the book:

From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

(Good Reads)

My review:

I have struggled to give this a rating. First, it was a 5 stars, as I thought about it, it went down to 4, and even if I leave it there, it’s more of a 3/3.5…

I really liked Milk and Honey, and was really excited to read this collection. Did I enjoyed it? Overall, yes. But I also found it dragging and repetitive at some points. There are some good poems that made me reach for a post it to mark the page (had none but oh well) and other that I was just, can you be over soon?…

The first chapter was the one that dragged the most, followed by the second chapter. The rest were quite fast paced in comparison. There was a lot of repetition regarding themes (break up, self love…) and feelings (sadness, love…) which made it a bit boring. However, once you’ve finished the book, the good poems can’t really outweigh the bad/boring ones.

Modern poetry has become a favourite of mine as I struggled with classic poetry most of my time in school (identifying themes and meaning and all that wasn’t easy for me), so I had faith in Rupi and what was promised. Even though she hasn’t fully failed me, I think this second collection proves that reaching overwhelming success on the first try is not always good. Pressure to achieve and comply with that success can make good writing go bad. The breaking of sentences and such
Many
Words
By themselves
Can become too much, even if you give long, fuller sentences poems every tens of pages. Too little too late.

Overall I think for modern poetry fans is not a bad read but proceed with caution: lots of single words sentences ahead. Relevant themes and some empowering poems helps with some of the dullness.

3/3.5 stars.

About the author:

Rupi Kaur is a writer and artist based in Toronto, Canada. With a focus in poetry, she released her first book of prose and poems in November 2014. Throughout her poetry, photography, illustrations, and creative direction she engages with themes of femininity, love, loss, trauma, and healing. When she is not writing or creating art, she is travelling internationally to perform her spoken word poetry, as well as hosting writing workshops. You can find more of her work at www.rupikaur.com

nanowrimo · Sin categoría · writing

#NaNoWriMo UPDATE

So, I said I would do two updates on the challenge but obviously that didn’t happen (heh). It doesn’t matter though, and here’s why:

I failed and that’s okay.

I didn’t complete the challenge but I don’t feel bad or angry with myself and guess what? My confidence as a writer didn’t disappear because I didn’t manage the challenge of writing every day for a month/50,000 words. My word count at this point is 3,000 aprox. and I’m happy. Why? Because it’s 3,000 more words than I had before November.

I didn’t win the challenge but I finished the month with new ideas for my story and a certainty that if I try, I know I can. I just need to try.

So, yes, I did fail my first NaNoWriMo but know I will try again next year and the next until I win.

And I will not give up on my book. I will finish it. No matter how long it takes me, one or two or three years, I will.

never give up

Saray xx

nanowrimo · writing

#NaNoWriMo

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National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it’s better known, is something that I found out about a couple weeks ago through an email alert from a Creative Writing website. But, what does it actually mean?

Well, as its official website describes it, “it is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30.” The idea is that you plan your novel with an outline, summary, whatever works for you before November starts so that on day 1 you can just start writing, good or bad, it doesn’t matter. The point is just get writing.

There is some freedom in this challenge, as I found out from my Twitter research. You don’t necessarily need to write a 50,000 novel, you can finish an already started project/projects (like me), write a novella, write or finish a screenplay, anything you want as long as you write everyday and achieve the 50,000 word count.

So, after a year and five months since I stopped writing my first-ever novel regularly (I’ve written some scenes here and there), I’ve decided to take on this challenge and use it to binge write the rest of my novel and get. it. finished.

There’s a few tricks out there to get writing done (writing buddies, writing sprints…) and I really hope they help me. I’ll update the progress on my Twitter account and do two follow-up posts (Day 15 and Day 30).

Wish me luck!

Love,

Saray xx

life

The Day I Said Good-bye

… and a weight lifted off my shoulders.

When I wrote my last post, there was so much anger in me at my job and I needed to get some of my frustration out. Since then, some things have happened that have changed everything. I wrote this post title right after my last post went live. I was waiting until life gave me a new opportunity (a new job) to write and post it. Now, I can.

This week has been horrible. Bad news after bad news and stress and frustration and feeling utterly sorry for myself. I was feeling even depressed at one point; having trouble keeping my head focused on things.

The main thing that happened, and landed on top of my already-present stress (job search-hating my job), was my live-in landlady giving me notice, meaning, she was kicking me out. Why? She doesn’t like that I’m not sociable with her. In her own words ‘I don’t like that you just stay in your room’. Well, after a whole day with people, I like my peace and quiet when I get home. I’m an introvert. It happens. Still, I knew I was going to leave anyway, I don’t particularly like this place, but I had gotten comfortable. Plus, as I am looking for another job, I thought I’d do one thing at a time. Job first. House later.

This, obviously, stressed me out. I spent the whole day searching housing possibilities and the next few days trying to figure out how I was going to afford a place for myself because I was tired of house sharing. That didn’t go well. Calculating costs, bills, rent, transport, all of that made me more and more depressed because I couldn’t see how I was going to afford anything. My mind was full with this, even though I had a month notice, I wanted (and still do) out as soon as possible. This is still in the works but it’s looking brighter; less stressful. Again, that’s matters for another post.

Thing is, while this was happening, I was waiting to hear back from an interview I had done the week before. I was told I would hear something on Wednesday and when that didn’t happen, I kind of gave up on it. I knew it was silly, but I had other matters to worry about and a job rejection was just not worth the hustle even if it did make me sad I wasn’t getting an email. I ended up getting the rejection email on the Friday, the worst day of the week, when I was so tired I was ready to sleep through the weekend and have the week end. It piled up on top of the rest and made me even more depressed.

And when things couldn’t go worse, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday, around five in the afternoon, I got I call. Unknown number. I picked up and there it was, the same people who had rejected me, offering me a job. Not the one I applied for, but still good. And I accepted. Right away. I was bursting with happiness for the first time in days. I couldn’t believe it and I still can’t. I was so excited that I penned my letter of resignation for my current job straight away and sent it within the hour. An end date. Having that for my hateful job feels amazing.

I talked about life being complicated last week. Life is unexpected and I lived that this week in full force. I can’t say I’m yet were I want to be but things are picking up and everything looks a little bit better now. After this week of hell, luck is finally on my side.

I’m happy.

Saray x

introduction · life

The Job I Never Thought I Would Have

Life is complicated.

We have all heard that three-word sentence probably all our lives. We also knows that life is unexpected, it throws situations at you to see your reaction and action. I have had a few unexpected situations in my life, same as everyone, but ending in the job I have now is probably one of the most surprising. Even more if you know me.

I was the shy girl. The girl that sat in the back and never raised her hand. The one that would hardly talk during class afraid the teacher would see. The girl that never gave her opinion and just went along with it. Talking to people? Really hard. Talking to strangers? Impossible. So, obviously, working in retail, in the front of shop, where you need to talk to customers and strangers all day long? Nope. Never.

But that’s what I do. And I used to like it.

I’ve changed a lot since I was the shy girl in school, so much that I now enjoy meeting new people and making new friends. I’m good at it I’d dare say. For the first months working at Costa, I really liked it. Getting to know my new coworkers, meeting the regular customers and the non-regular, easing up on small talks and learning the job. It was all hard but fun.

Fast forward to a year later, and I can’t wait to get out of there. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the customer service, for the most part, and like most of my coworkers, but the job? I couldn’t dislike it more even if I tried. Actually. Yeah. I probably can. Why? Well, it’s a series of things, all leading to one. But that’s another post.

This one is about change. Everyone changes and it’s life that changes us. I changed so much that now people trust me to lead them. So much that now I give my opinion out-loud and stand my ground when I know I should. I’m a different version of me but I’d never say better. I’m not better than I was because that would mean I wasn’t good back then and I was. You are your best in every version of you. Just different. I’ve learned and I’ve changed and I like who I am just like I like who I was.

This is all probably meaningless for you but I kind of had it on my chest. A lot of things have happened lately and I just wanted to let something out.

Part two may be up soon.

Saray x

reviews

The Bad-Luck of a Film-manic – Spoiler Reviews

Before you start reading and a begin my rambling, please know there will be spoilers ahead of several recent films. Let’s start!

I go to the cinema quite a lot now, more than I ever have, thanks to a membership I have. The thing is I’ve seen about 17 films since September of last year and I have had very good luck with all the films I’ve seen because most of them I loved. Until now. The last films I’ve watched have mostly been disappointments with just a couple exceptions (Beauty and The Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2), and all started in March with…

Fifty Shades Darker (10/03/17)

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I was going to apologise for watching this but honestly? I did kind of as a joke with my boyfriend. So, yeah, I saw it, and it was as horrible as I imagined it would be. I had no expectations so that helped to not be disappointed. There no much to say about this film besides bad writing, bad acting, bad plot, Bad. Every. Single. Thing. You would think that the whole Ana and Christian reconciliation would last at least half the film. Nop! It was 5 minutes in and they were snogging already. Way to be an independent woman Ana. If that was bad, wait until her boss goes from nice to stalker in 0.1 seconds just because she’s doing Christian, who, by the way, losses any chance of being a believable character when he goes from Dom to no-I-don’t-need-that-anymore. Look, I’ve never met a Dom or Sub for the matter but I doubt they give up so quickly just because. Again. Horrible writing. I could keep going with all the problems but I’ll stop here.

Rating: 1/5 (it’s not a 0 because I had a good laugh)

Note: I will definitely not be watching the next one in cinema. Maybe. Unless I want a good laugh and there are no decent comedies out.

Power Rangers (25/03/17)

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Problem 1: I had too many expectations. Problem 2: What was I thinking? It’s the Power Rangers! I should have known. If you’re like me, as a little kid, you have watched maybe not the whole series but at least some episodes of the live version of the Power Rangers and let’s face it, they weren’t great. What one can do with animation doesn’t always look good in live. A power ranger film sounded good when it was announced but I think I forgot special effects don’t mean it’s going to be good. It wasn’t. Even though the acting wasn’t that bad (let’s exclude Elizabeth Banks’ villain because, well, it’s a Power Ranger villain), the plot was lacking to say the least and the character development was, how can I explain it? Jumping? I mean, it looked like there was character development and then it would jump back and so on. Also, everything was kind of too fast pacing? Like, if you discover your a power ranger, I don’t think it takes you 1 day to accept it and start saving the world. Even less if you are a teenager. Still, it was a interesting experience, that I hope doesn’t repeat itself unless they improve, well, everything. Also, all the press about Becky G’s character being LGBT was an over-exaggeration. She comes out in 1 minute and that’s it. How disappointing.

Rating: 2/5 (it was nostalgic even if it had my eyebrows raised for almost the whole movie because of the strange pacing plot)

A Dog’s Purpose (09/05/17)

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This is going to be short. It’s a family film. About a dog. Narrated by the dog. In his different lives. Do I need to explain more? I mean, the cuteness level of the film is high, like, come on, doggies! But what it has in cuteness, lacks on, ironically, purpose. I understand what they tried to do, a film about life and the purpose of it and use a dog to show it because it’s a cute movie for families with kids but no. The fact the dog narrates makes it less meaningful and more wtf. KJ Apa was a nice surprise though.

Rating: 2/5 (cute dogs are cute)

King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword (21/05/17)

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Historical literary figure meets sass meets video games.

I swear this film should be called “King Sass and the Sassy Knights” because that’s all I got from it. What seemed to be a nice re-telling of the Arthurian myth turned into a weird mix of sexy Charlie Hunnam modernly sassing his way to Camelot with video-game like fight scenes. It was, I don’t know, confusing. Like, it’s King Arthur so you expect something classy with epic sword fights but instead you get Arthur working as the boss? of a prostitutes’ house. I kind of liked it (duh Charlie’s on it) but I wouldn’t say its a good film. Also, the video-game like fights made it kind of hard to follow who was winning. I still recommend it as a should watch just because it was funny. And Charlie Hunnam.

Rating: 2.5/5

Colossal (24/05/17)

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This was weird. I think that’s the only way to describe it. It’s actually what I said as soon as the lights turned back on. Imagine this: Anne Hathaway is an alcoholic who controls a monster in South Korea and then there’s Jason Sudeikis who controls a robot. If that wasn’t weird enough, Sudeikis is a psychopath who hates/is jealous of? Hathaway so much he would kill koreans with his robots just to feel his life is less meaningless. Turns out it all started because kid Sudeikis destroyed on purpose kid Hathaway’s South Korea diagram school project and there were some lightnings and monster and robot toys and bum! there’s a monster in Seul. Now, there is a really nice message about life and feeling important, etc, but honestly, you don’t see it until you’re already home thinking about what the hell did you just watch. Kudos to Anne and Jason for their acting but man, was that weird as fuck.

Rating: 2/5 (it wasn’t bad, just weird)

There we reach the end! Promise from now on it will be one review per movie at a time. I’m still learning how I like to review so apologies if they are inconsistent and unhelpful.

Love,

Saray x

introduction · life

My name is

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Welcome people!

Here I am trying the whole blogging thing once more. On a new platform this time. Here’s to hope this time will be better.

For those who don’t know me I guess I should introduce myself. I’m getting pretty used to doing this by now. I think. So, let’s do this. My name is Saray, swimming through life for 23 years now and counting (sadly).

Am I an adult? Am I a teenager? Well, that’s a conundrum. People like to assume that once you graduate university and get a job, you are an adult. It’s not so simple, is it? Do I feel like an adult? Hell no! Am I a teenager? Sadly not either. I’m in this limbo no one knows what to name. Young Adult? Should be but some connect that to being just over 18. So yeah, I’m in that nameless stage between teen years and adulthood.

In any case, I tried blogging in another platform (squatpensnuggun.blogspot.co.uk) and decided to try WordPress after seeing many people move here too. I will try and post stuff whenever I can but can’t promise anything as, well, you see, I never have been able to keep promises about posting before. I plan on posting a variety of things from entries about my life to articles and reviews.

For this reason, I have titled it the Secret Diary of a Normal Girl. This is what we all go through, different stages, different experiences and opinions. We all have a secret life, even more us normal girls.

With all my love,

Saray x