ARC REVIEW: Little Fires Everywhere – by Celeste Ng @penguinpress

Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: September 12th 2017
Publisher: Penguin Press
Finished reading: August 25th 2017
Pages: 384

“Rules existed for a reason: if you followed them, you would succeed; if you didn’t, you might burn the world to the ground.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Penguin Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who has Little Fires Everywhere on their list of most anticipated releases and you can imagine I was over the moon when I found out my request for such a popular title was actually approved. I have been looking forward to this title ever since I first received my copy on my kindle, and now I’ve read it I can predict this title will receive a lot of love. Because Celeste Ng has created a very intriguing story full of drama, complex characters and a wide range of emotions and themes. The first thing that stands out is the writing style, which is excellent and helps set the right atmosphere for this story. Little Fires Everywhere kind of starts with the ending and then slowly shows you how everything gets to that point, unraveling secrets, lies and learning more about the main characters, their history and the town the story is set in. Shaker Heights makes for a very interesting setting and only reinforces the contrast between the successful and rich Richardson family and both Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl. This clash is the basis for a well developed and intriguing story not only about the relationship between both families but also about how they react to a different situation that will affect both. Celeste Ng is very good at developing her characters and making them feel realistic with all their flaws and other signs of their humanity. I personally struggled a bit to connect to them, but that might have just been me not agreeing with some of the choices the characters make. It’s probably one of the reasons I didn’t LOVE love Little Fires Everywhere, even though I still can’t put my finger exactly on the why. There is no doubt that this book is an excellent read though and fans of her books and the genre in general will be in for a treat.

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Shaker Heights is a placid suburb of Cleveland where everything is planned until the very last detail. The people living there are expected to live successful lives in their grand houses and the guiding principle in the community is to play by the rules. The current residents all seem to follow this principle, including the Richardsons. But then Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl arrive in town, and they don’t seem to fit in that mold. Mia is a single mother and an artist who doesn’t seem to follow the same rules and managed to live her life so far anyway. Elena Richardson first rented them a house, but later seems to start resenting Mia for not fitting in; although her children seem to think otherwise. And then something will happen that will endanger this delicate balance…

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Even though I ended up giving Little Fires Everywhere a slightly lower rating than expected, there is no doubt that this was still a very good read. Both the writing, character development and twists were very well done and turn Little Fires Everywhere into an excellent contemporary fiction read with a healthy dose of drama, secrets and lies. The flashbacks to the past are interesting as well as the way as some sensitive themes as abortion are incorporated. And I just loved the photography elements! Fans of the genre will love this book.


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WWW Wednesdays #152 – August 30th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m finally continuing with Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro despite the fact I just couldn’t get into the story the first time around… I’m planning to finish it before the end of the month for a challenge even if I’m still struggling with it. I’m also about to start I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist, one of my last! pending Netgalley ARCs before I can finally fully concentrate on my own books again. It’s a horror story and sounds pretty promising despite the very low Goodreads rating. Fingers crossed!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Missing Girls by Carol Wyer (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 
The Missing Girls is a true detective thriller winner for quite a few reasons. Fast-paced, well written, a healthy dose of suspense, one creepy serial killer, plot twists, an interesting character… This third book of the DI Robyn Carter series has all that and more. I really liked the way the social media and cyber bullying theme is incorporated into the story and how it shows the dangers of using those apps. The story definitely ends with a bang though and I will be waiting impatiently to find out what will happen next. Recommended!

2. Little Fire Everywhere by Celeste Ng (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 31/08
Even though I ended up giving Little Fires Everywhere a slightly lower rating than expected, there is no doubt that this was still a very good read. Both the writing, character development and twists were very well done and turn Little Fires Everywhere into an excellent contemporary fiction read with a healthy dose of drama, secrets and lies. The flashbacks to the past are interesting as well as the way as some sensitive themes as abortion are incorporated. And I just loved the photography elements! Fans of the genre will love this book.

3. The Accident by S.D. Monaghan (3/5 stars) REVIEW 01/09
Action-packed, thrilling, suspenseful, crazy, rollercoaster ride… All words that apply to The Accident and its plot. Fans of action thrillers will devour this story and will especially love the final part, which almost reads like one of those popular action movies. That said, I personally did have some problems with the credibility both of the characters, their actions and the plot in general. It felt almost like too many different angles where squeezed into an already eventful plot and it started to have the opposite effect on me. I wasn’t a fan of the characters either, but I can also see how the right person would love this book.

4. Monsters Of Men by Patrick Ness (3/5 stars) REVIEW 03/09
I was so sure I was going to enjoy Monsters Of Men just as much as the previous two books, but I guess my instincts were wrong. It wasn’t the prose. Besides the slang I still find annoying, the writing was just as strong as ever. I still love Todd and Viola just as much as in the first books. And it wasn’t the fact that Patrick Ness is basically an expert at breaking my heart and crushing my feelings either. I had one big problem with Monsters Of Men: ‘The Return’ and his newly introduced POV. This POV is more lyrical and in a way very beautiful, but unfortunately it left me mostly confused and I had a hard time figuring out the who and what of the things mentioned in those chapters. I actually found myself starting to skimread them at some point… Definitely not a good sign. It’s the main reason I had to lower the rating considerably despite my overal positive opinion about the rest of this final book.

5. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (4/5 stars)  REVIEW 05/09
I kept the summary supershort since I’m positive just about everyone will already be familiar with this classic in the first place. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland is surprisingly easy to read for a classic and quite short as well; I was able to fly through it in a blink of an eye. There isn’t much of a plot to talk about and basically nothing really makes sense, but in the end this story was able to bring a smile to my face and sometimes that is just the most important thing. I do realize now most of the retellings are way more detailed than the original story… Something that has truly surprised me.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

No matter what happens, I’m going to pick up Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab next.  I’ve been suffering for way too long already and it’s been a miracle I haven’t run into spoilers so far in the first place! I also want to read A Different Blue by Amy Harmon soon… I love her books so far and can’t wait to read this one. Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin is also high on my list. My newest TBR jar pick is Flowers For Algéron by Daniel Keyes, a modern classic that I can conveniently use for one of the challenges as well. 😉


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Friday Finds #132 – May 12th

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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BOOK REVIEW: Everything I Never Told You – by Celeste Ng

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Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
First published: June 26th 2014
Finished reading: January 17th 2016
Pages: 304
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“The things that go unsaid are often the things that eat at you–whether because you didn’t get to have your say, or because the other person never got to hear you and really wanted to.”

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Everything I Never Told You has been recommended to me in the past and after rereading the blurb earlier this month I decided I was in the mood for this historical fiction read with a dash of mystery. Unfortunately, this novel by Celeste Ng turned out to be quite a slow read and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. First of all, the blurb is slightly misleading and the main story is more about the family history and how Lydia’s parents met than about the missing girl herself… Which alone isn’t a such bad thing, but I didn’t really like the mother or father as a character and the story itself reads really slow as well. I liked the 1950s and 1970s setting and the fact that the novel touches the subject of racial discrimination. Finding a Chinese American family living in a small town in Ohio during those times is rare, and unfortunately it’s all too true that what people don’t know they often don’t fully accept… Still, somehow this story just didn’t manage to convince me completely. The actions of the mother and father, the lack of background on Lydia and how things happened… For me, there was too much focus on the past instead of on the present (1970s). Everything I Never Told You might still be a great read for those who are more interested in a realistic fiction story and a family portrait; just don’t set your expectations too high before starting it.

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When Marilyn decided to marry her professor James Lee, she already knew people were probably going to gossip about the couple. Mixed racial marriages weren’t all that common in the 1950s and generally frowned upon, and even her own mother disaproves… But Marilyn takes James as her husband anyway. Together they form the only Chinese American family living in a small town in Ohio and raise three kids together. Marilyn has been restless though because she had to give up her dream to be a doctor in order to have her oldest child Lydia… Her mother had always wanted her to find a husband and be a housewife, but Marilyn thought differently. Now she ended up with exactly the life her mother had planned for her, and secretly she is looking for a way out. When her daughter Lydia disappears and is found dead in the local lake, the whole family falls apart… And Marilyn doesn’t know if she can fight her feelings any longer.

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It sounds like a very intriguing story and it partly is, but personally I found myself underwhelmed by this story. I had really high expectations for Everything I Never Told You.Sadly, it turned out to be quite a slow read and more of a family portrait with a lot of drama and the actual event of Lydia missing was driven to the background. It’s not a bad read and I know some of you loved this book, but unfortunately I didn’t have the same feelings…

WWW Wednesdays #74 – January 20th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’ve started reading my pending ARC, Eternal War: Armies Of Saints by Livio Gambarini yesterday. It’s a historical fiction/fantasy read and I’m really enjoying it so far! I’ve also finally picked up The Death Code by Lindsay Cummings… I have been wanting to read this sequel for too long now so I’m glad I finally did.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished is Illuminae by Amie Kaufman. People kept recommending this book to me and I have to say it was just as good as I thought it would be. Minor complaint: I NEED a physical version because the creative layout doesn’t look nearly as good on my kindle. 😦
* I then finished Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, which turned out to be quite a slow read and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I though I would. It’s more about the family history than it is about the missing girl… And somehow it didn’t manage to convince me completely.
* The last book I managed to finish (I DNFed Death Of Secrets by Bowen Greenwood) was The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas. Finally a good mystery read and a new series I can add to my favorites list!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I might try to read I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios next, although I’ve heard mixed things about it… Confessions by Kanae Minato is also still on my list as well, but I might read Defending Jacob by William Landay first since I’m in the mood for mystery/thriller reads. Last but not least, Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch is still my newest TBR jar pick…

WWW Wednesdays #73 – January 13th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I finally picked up Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and so far I’m absolutely loving it. I can’t wait to continue reading it later today! Looks like this is one of those books that is actually worth the hype around it…

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished since last week is Serafina And The Black Cloak by Robert Beatty. A very good middle grade story that has a good mix of fantasy and scary elements and I really liked the prose.
* I then finished All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry. I was more than pleasantly surprised by this historical fiction novel. Such an original, beautifully written and emotional story!
* I was in the mood for another crime read so I picked up Confessions Of A Murder Suspect by James Patterson. It’s the first time I read a Patterson YA novel, but I flew through the pages and it was a really entertaining read.
* Afterwards I decided to read Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl since it has become a tradition to reread at least one or two Roald Dahl books a year. He is one of my favorite childhood authors and I always love rereading his work. This is not my favorite, but still good.
* The last book I finished during the read-a-thon was Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid.  I can’t say I was impressed by this one. It wasn’t terrible but there were some parts that really bothered me…
* The last book on this list, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, was not as great as I would have thought either. It’s definitely a dark, twisted and disturbing read with many crazy plot twists and a somewhat surprising ending, but it took me a long time to actually finish it and I didn’t like the characters…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I have a new ARC waiting for me: Eternal War Armies Of Saints by Livio Gambarini. This book set in the 13th century is a mix of historical fiction and fantasy and I’m really looking forward to it! I really should read The Death Code by Lindsay Cummings as well, so I can at least start finishing all those poor neglected series… Although I will probably read Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng first. Last but not least, Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch is still my newest TBR jar pick.

WWW Wednesdays #72 – January 6th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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Bout Of Books 15 is really helping me fly through my books! I have started All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry yesterday evening and I’m really looking forward to continue it today… And Serafina And The Black Cloak by Robert Beatty I will finish for sure today; a very entertaining middle grade read that is definitely living up to expectations!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished this year is The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. I actually really enjoyed the first part of the book, but then another freaking love triangle was introduced… And things went downhill from there.
* I then finished Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, a book I absolutely LOVED. I think this is my new Gaiman favorite, although The Ocean At The End Of The Lane comes close…
* I was in the mood for a crime read so I picked up Dead Wood by Dani Amore afterwards. It turned out to be a quick and entertaining read.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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As soon as Bout Of Books 15 is over, I’m going to start Illuminae by Amie Kaufman. I’m so excited about this read that it’s getting really hard to wait any longer! I also want to read both Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn; with a little luck I will be able to finish both before the end of the read-a-thon. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch is my newest TBR jar pick, which is kind of funny because I already had that title on my January TBR anyway. 😉