Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Happy 2020! 

Last year one of my “resolutions”, and I hate deeming anything as a resolution, was to read more books. I had a goal of one book a month. That may seem like a lot, but I reached it for the most part. I’m not perfect and there were months that I didn’t read but in 2019 I was able to read quite a few books, I should add up how many. I still need to write about books I read, so more will be coming.

This month, I started “Little Fires Everywhere”, I had waited 12+ weeks for my digital copy and physical copy to be ready from the library, and I was excited to read it. I waited a long time, and I’m NOT a patient person! It has gotten a lot of attention being on the NYT Best seller list for 36 weeks (and still is as I write this), plus it is airing as a Hulu original on March 18th! Needless to say, I was ready to see what this was all about.

Short version- I’d recommend this book, it was a really good read. Read below if you’re curious!

Little Fires Everywhere introduces you to characters of different race and culture, it forces you to think about how those factors may or may not influence your life, more so than any “choice” you may make.

There are so many themes in this book: dealing with death, women’s rights, infertility, and how our “choices” shape our future, even ones that weren’t expected choices.

Taking place in the 1990’s in an idyllic setting of Shaker Heights, an affluent community in Cleveland Ohio, you soon see that even though a community may appear “perfect” the people who live in it are not as they seem.

No one, no matter their upbringing, where they went to college, their job, where they were born, or even their address makes them immune from life’s hardships. You are bound to see yourself, and your story in one or more of these characters; making it hit home.

The book makes this abundantly clear when the opening pages start out with a fire, that shakes the Richardson family who has deep Shaker Heights roots to its core.  Their house is on fire, things like this don’t happen in their neighborhood. So what happened??

The story follows the Richardson family, and the Warren family who became tenants in one of their houses. Their life is forever changed as mother/daughter duo Mia and Pearl Warren come to Shaker Heights to “stay for good”.

Living a life where they never stayed put for long, they arrived in Shaker Heights and Peal was promised by her mother that this was it. So Pearl found community within the Richardson family.  She is good friends with one of the sons, Moody. Pearl also builds a strong friendship with the Richardson’s youngest daughter Izzy, and with the other two siblings Lexie and Trip in less conventional ways (without giving away any spoilers).

You read about Mia and her story being a single mother, struggling to make ends meet, as an artist. I empathized with her motivation that moves her on to keep providing for Pearl, but shockingly her story is anything but conventional. Mia and her path toward motherhood is so controversial it makes you ponder the question if being a mother is defined by how well you can provide or based on the principal that life was given. 

This theme reverberates throughout the rest of the story. It is so interesting because you may THINK you know the answer to this question, but things are always more complex than they seem. As you peel back the layers of the story, you are faced with the question if financial stability outweighs love, if DNA outweighs the ability to provide, and if second chances are always granted. Does one trump the other? The answer isn’t as black and white as you’d think when you’re looking at it from several viewpoints.

Two other women’s stories intersect into the plot, that will have you wondering whether someone’s struggles give them the right at a second chance when it comes to the well-being of an abandoned child. If that second chance is outweighed by someones ability to provide for and love a child that was abandoned. It’s safe to say you’d would never dream of being in a situation where leaving their baby at a fire-station seemed like the last option for survival. You may think you know how you feel about this but as you read the stories of very different women, both wanting to love the same baby you may change your mind.

The children of the Richardson family are so intertwined with the Warren women, with Mia helping in their home, and with Pearl practically being apart of the Richardson family. Things get complex and we can see how these teenagers are faced with real adult issues, and how it can change their lives in an instant.

All of them are impacted, and in the end, you see that their lives filled with perfectly planned communities, pristine lawns, elaborate homes and luxury leaving them detached from struggle doesn’t isolate them from it. It’s right there just the same as someone scrambling to pay rent, sleeping on a mattress on the floor, or in their car. We are all faced with things we can’t escape.

There are so many ironic twists in this story, without spoiling how it unfolds, you come to see that people are less different than you’d assume from the outside. We are all dealing with fires in our lives, and fires from our past that we still carry with us.

My heart broke for so many of the themes in this book, and this was one of my favorite quotes that accurately sums up this book.

“It seems like the end of the world. The earth is all scorched and black and everything green is gone. But after the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. ‘People are like that too, you know. They start over. They find a way.'” 

People get through things because they have to. Little Fires Everywhere shines a light on the fires in our lives, and how we find the will to survive, and sometimes that means burning it all to the ground, and starting over. Even in our worst moments, growth happens after the fire is over; if you survive the burn.

-Hannah (1)

If you read this or plan to, leave a comment below telling me about it!

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

 

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In June I read the suspenseful story,  The Couple Next Door.  

I would totally recommend this story for anyone who likes a good crime mystery and/or on-the-edge of your seat kind of read.

The story immediately jumps off with an event that you are trying to piece together throughout the whole book.

You are introduced to new parents Anne and Marco. They have a young baby who they leave next door while they attend a dinner party at their neighbor’s house. Vowing to check on her every 30 minutes, and using their baby monitor for audio didn’t prove to be enough; because at the end of the evening they returned home to an empty crib! No visible signs of forced entry, no struggle, nothing broken, except the bathroom mirror (that Anne had smashed in earlier when she was upset) you panic and wonder where she went and who took her. Now to call the police, to explain how their home wasn’t vandalized, how their infant daughter was not in her crib and to find her and bring her back.

Naturally in cases like this the parents are the prime suspect. Who else would know that the baby would have been alone? Who else knew how to get into their house unseen and sneak away with their child?!

As I was reading I suspected someone who turned out to not be as involved as I thought. It kept me guessing and interested the whole time!

Honestly, it was great. I would love it if there was a sequel. Something happens at the end that kind of (a totally different event) sets itself up for another book. I did read Shari write that she “has no plans to write a sequel for the couple next door.” That’s kind of a bummer, but you DO find out what happens regardless of the last event that I’m mentioning. It wraps up nicely and was a great read!

If you want to breeze through a crime mystery, this book should be on your list!

I could honestly see this being made into a movie. I did read that paramount picked it up for a series, but nothing too formal was written about the release.

I’ll be excited for whatever comes next for this book, and will have to read more of Shari Lapena’s books.

 


 

If you pick up this book, let me know. I’d love to see who is reading it! Be sure to tag @chaoswithmycoffee on Instagram and hashtag #chaoswithmycoffee

-Hannah (1)

Our Fave Books For Boys

 

Our Fave Books For Boys.pngBeing a boy mom is definitely a different type of motherhood, I know it sounds silly, but its true!

I think boys  (mostly) are not super interested in reading naturally so I always am in search of books that are fun to read together at night or independently to help their reading fluency.

I will preface by saying my older (9 year old) couldn’t care less about reading and thats a struggle to find books (and now chapter books) that he loves to read.

Below I will post our faves that can either be read TO your kiddos, or they can attempt on their own depending on their abilities.

Boy moms will for sure appreciate the recommendations, and I’m sure girls would enjoy these as well.

** MOM TIPS**

  • Utilize your library. I request books on an app straight from my phone and I go to the library and pick up the physical books I requested.
  • You can get physical books, digital books, or even audio books through your library- ALL FREE! No more clutter and books you have to store and manage (thats a struggle in my house)

     Links for my local moms-

           Library App to request, renew and manage books.

         App for digital books too. I have both on my phone.

  • If you’re big into buying books, check out the used option on Amazon when checking out, or thriftbooks.com for cheaper options.

 

 

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1-Dragon Masters 2- How To Train Your Dragon 3- Galaxy Zack 4- Haggis And Tank 5- Unicorn and Yeti 6- Princess Pink  7- Eerie Elementary 8- Press Start! 9-The Notebook of Doom 10- The Last Kids On Earth 11- Hardy Boys 12- Ben Braver 

 

Look for Scholastic Acorn & Branches books

They are great books as your kids get  into chapter books, and there are great comprehension questions at the end of every book. I love that even for older kiddos, there are still pictures on every page- thats KEY for my older one.

Look for the logo in the top right corner- Acorn books are aimed at children who are learning to read. With easy-to-read text, a short-story format, plenty of humor, and full-color artwork on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and fluency. Acorn books plant a love of reading and help readers grow!

Branches are aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!


 

Dragon Masters- There are over 10 books in this series, each under 100 pages and pictures on each page. The story is a fun magical ride for the younger kids.

How To Train Your Dragon Series- Keeping with the dragon theme, we love How to Train Your Dragon! There are 11 of these books, and I loved the fact that the books DO NOT follow the same plot line as the movies. Same characters, different stories. They are about a 5th grade reading level, they don’t have a lot of pictures, but my younger one is really into listening to me read them to him at night.

 Galaxy Zack- There are SO many of these books, I believe over 15! This series is fun, its about a boy named Zack (who is 8 years old, right up our alley here) who has to go with his family and live on a new planet called Nebulon. He loves pizza, like my oldest and I think its a really fun story. I’m looking forward to reading more of these this summer.

Haggis And Tank- This is an acorn scholastic book, and there are more in the series. It follows a Scottish terrier (Haggis) and a Great Dane (Tank) as they go on make believe adventures. There are questions at the end of the book to go back over and pick up on different parts of the story, like the use of homophones and key points in that story.

Yeti And Unicorn- Another acorn scholastic book with questions and some drawing directions at the back. This follows the friendship between Yeti and Unicorn and its so cute!

Princess Pink- Now this is a deceiving title. It is a book with the name PRINCESS in it, but I love how these stories create a fun spin on classic fairytales like the Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, and the Little Red Riding Hood. Even though it says Princess- its still a fun twist on stories for the boys.

A Friend For Dragon Another Acorn book I forgot to picture, was written by the author of DogMan and Captain Underpants (Dav Pilkey) and the few books he wrote surround Dragon and him finding a friend (which is an apple) having a fat  cat (it was super funny) and problem solving. They were really cute and funny.

Eerie Elementary- My oldest really got into these, they are not my favorite but if he is engaged and interested I’ll help facilitate that interest. The plot line in this series follows a group of kids as they protect the school “Eerie Elementary” and its students from different things that come to life and haunts it;  like the swingset or the science experiments.

Press Start! I will say this is my FAVORITE find for boys so far. These books take place inside a video game that a boy in the story plays. There are 12 books, and each has a different obstacle to overcome. The villian wanting to (like all video games) destroy the innocent. It reminded me of Bowser in all of the Mario Bros. games. My oldest loved these!! They are at an almost 3rd grade reading level, and he was able to and interested in reading them ALL ALONE!

The Notebook Of Doom- We checked this out from the library, there were multiple books in the series, and from what I saw it reminded me of Eerie Elementary, but we didn’t read it yet. It seemed great for my older reader.

The Last Kids On Earth- This book was another good pick for my oldest. It follows some kids as they navigate their way through a post apocalyptic (without being overly mature or graphic) Earth. There are multiple in the series, and it was a good read. This is a realistic chapter book, with very little pictures, and was a good one to read TO them at night.

Hardy Boys- Another pick for the older readers. This is an obvious remake on the classic Hardy Boys books, but with a modern spin on their missions. The first in the series was kind of flat, but this (book #6) was much more appealing to both my son and husband. They reported back that this was better than #1.

Ben Braver- This was a favorite of my oldest as well. There are two books in the series, and we read the first. The second is on its way to our library. It follows a boy (Ben Braver) as he attends a school for kids with super powers and he tries to find his own, but ends up not having “super powers”. He was still able to save the school and make a difference without them. It had a good message.

 

 

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I hope this helps you select some fun books for your kiddos!

-Hannah (1)

What The Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

FullSizeRender.jpegMy book read for May was What The Wind Knows by Amy Harmon, this hit on all the characteristics of books that I love to read.

It is no secret that I am a BIG Outlander fanatic, and I feel like this is why this book resonated so much with me. There is romance, sci-fi elements, and a historical theme.

What The Wind Knows takes place mostly in Ireland, and it involves the main character Anne, accidentally going back in time. Seriously, I love anything with time travel for some reason and have no idea why.

She is catapulted into a world of 1921 and she was from 2001! She goes back to a place she only had heard about from her grandfather Owen, or read about.

She has to try to figure out what the heck happened, because she wasn’t intending to time travel and she has to have a good alibi otherwise she will seem like she is a spy for the British.

She meets people that her grandfather had told her about, she saw pictures of important people in his life and is now face-to-face with them! I couldn’t even imagine!

I really loved Anne’s character because of the fact that she resembled her grandmother so much she was able to be mistaken for her.  I should mention that they have the same name, Anne! So when she found herself in a place and time she didn’t recognize, they were calling her by her name and she of course responded thinking they were referring to her real self!

Without giving away any plot spoilers away, she eventually finds herself in a romantic situation and has a choice to make. She either allows herself to fall in love back in 1921 and potentially risk exposing herself for who she really is, or she tries to get back to her life in 2001 and leave that all behind.

Its such a good story. I really loved it! You feel the love between the main characters and the plot really picks up towards the end of the book and it ends on such a sweet note that only leaves me hoping for a sequel!

 

If you love time travel, romance, and historical books, then this one is for you!

Check it out on Audible or in physical form. You can read it for free on Kindle Unlimited too.

-XoXo

Hannah

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by [Semple, Maria]

In April I read, well listened on Audible to Where’d You Go Bernadette.

I love reading, and even though there is nothing like reading a physical book with pages, sometimes life is too busy and I still want to read. That is why I love audio books so much!  I can utilize my time, mostly when I drive in the car, fold laundry, or take a bath, I get to listen to a book!

Back to my book review.

Where’d You Go Bernadette was a fun read (well, listen).  I liked the story and how it wrapped up at the end especially.

The story surrounded the main character Bernadette Fox and all of her quirky attributes. She seems like a really uppity person to most of the onlookers in the story, but as it evolves and you learn more about her you begin to understand her and even empathize with her. She has a daughter Bee, who also has a really interesting backstory that is revealed, and Microsoft genius husband Elgin. The story takes place in Seattle where they relocated from California. Bernadette’s life was certainly not how she planned it to be, and as the story progresses you learn more and more about her and why she chooses to seclude herself.

I really enjoyed listening and hearing all of her remarks she made about being around people and what other school moms were like. It makes you laugh out loud a little… well, I laughed out loud a lot. There were lots of funny moments, and interesting twists.

Eventually, this is not a real spoiler, she goes missing ( I mean, Where’d You Go IS in the title) and I loved finding out how that was all going to unfold.

I feel like I kept guessing the whole time, and kind of like that when I listen to or read books.

It was a really cute story about family, personal struggles, and how we change as life moves along.

I really enjoyed this book and will definitely will be watching the movie! Here is a clip of the trailer. Cate Blanchett is the perfect person to play Bernadette!

Check out this fun read on Audible or get it in physical form

 

 

Watch the movie trailer

-XoXo
Hannah

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

I read a whole spectrum of books, it keeps life interesting.

I just finished Hidden Bodies, which is the sequel to the Book and Netflix series YOU.

You (2018)

If you love a good suspenseful psycho-thriller book/ show then you need to give the book and show a shot. (Assuming you haven’t already).

If you have not read or watched it, don’t read on if you’re touchy about spoilers.

Hidden bodies picks up where the show leaves off, and follows Joe Goldberg on his interesting life after Beck. As Joe tries to move on from Beck, he finds himself in a new relationship, that fell into his lap.

He has a new love in his life Amy, who shocked me somewhat with her role in the book. Read to see how that all goes!

He finds himself, in L.A. instead of New York and that was a location change I didn’t see coming.

Now, in Hollywood Joe leads a totally different life from his east coast New York vibe. He meets typical California people who are struggling/ aspiring actors and uber rich people. He befriends the most unlikely people and you see his character changing and yet remaining the same all at once.

This book has all sorts of twists and turns and takes you places you didn’t see coming.

I love Hidden Bodies’ contrast to YOU as well as the familiar scenarios Joe  finds himself.

Chapters 48 until the end are REAL game changers. I won’t divulge any spoilers, but it literally kept me on the edge of my seat and makes you root for Joe.

Its bizarre when you watch a show or read a book from a serial killer’s perspective (I’m reminded of Dexter), and those main characters are somewhat “normal” people. You find yourself rooting for that them in spite of their crimes! Even though Joe has his flaws, you kind of want life to work out for him, but the possibility of him being caught for his previous crimes is suspenseful and exciting. You feel a little bit like you are rooting for two teams, good and bad and somehow it all makes sense.

Anyway, I really can’t summarize this book without giving away the cool aspects of it. I would hate to make it unreadable for anyone.

So give it a shot, Its totally addicting.  I hear that Caroline Kepnes is writing a third book about Joe Goldberg, but that one is not out yet. So stay tuned and let me know if you read this, or have read it and if you love it too!

XoXo

Hannah