Review | Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold

“It’s not that we need more wolf hunters,” you say. “It’s that we need men to stop becoming wolves.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: broken necks, old sayings, french expressions, menstruation, lapis blue necklaces, farmhouses, sickle moons, Halloween parties, poems, fresh bread, improbable friends and big bad wolves.

I swear I’m going to read EVERY retelling that comes from this author. After reading Damsel which easily became one of my favorite books of all time – I was very excited when this book was published and I couldn’t wait to finally pick it up. I knew it would also be a retelling with a feminist twist just like Damsel, so I had high expectations!

Red Hood follows a teenage girl named Bisou, who lives with her grandmother in a small house in Seattle. Right after finding out she was menstruating for the first time, she finds herself in the woods in front of a terrifying wolf. It attacks her, but she easily fights it and kills it with knowledge she didn’t even know she had. The next day she finds out a boy from her school was found dead in the woods. Of course, this brings a lot of questions to Bisou, but fortunately her grandmother was waiting for the right time to have a very important talk with her.

For starters, I’m not sure I would consider this a retelling because the story is very different from Little Red Riding Hood. Sure, we have the same main elements – the girl, the grandmother, the wolves, the european references – but other than that, there is not anything else in common with the original story other than inspiration.

The book started out strong. That first chapter was… something. I know it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I personally really liked how raw this book is. I applaud the author for talking about topics like menstruation and sex in a very natural, non-taboo way. I was also surprised to find out this was written as a contemporary story instead of an historical one. I confess I was skeptical about this when I started reading the book, but it turned out better than I thought. The story is told in second person, so it’s told like the reader is the main character. I can’t remember if I ever read a story in this format before, but I thought it was cool and different!

But this story has a bigger purpose. It’s very obvious that the main topics of this book are abuse, double standards and consent – but it’s all said in a metaphoric way. Some men are wolves – not all of them, of course – and they take women as prey. Like I said, I wouldn’t consider this a retelling but I love the way the author uses fairytales and recreates them to encourage important conversations. The book talks about toxic masculinity, rape culture and “incels” (which I never heard about before until I read this book) and it encourages consensual relationships and gender equality. Overall, I would say this is a great story about woman empowerment. We live in a world where women are constantly being labeled, sexualized and shamed for their bodies instead of being accepted for who they are as a whole. It’s about taking our power back and accepting our bodies without feeling bad about them.

It’s not a beat-around-the bush kind of book because it will tell you everything as it is, whether you are comfortable or not! I honestly think it’s a great book that brings to light a lot of issues women have while dealing with “wolves”. It’s feminist, it’s raw and it’s empowering.

xoxo, Neide

TBR | December 2020

December is almost here! So many things happened this year that I just want to end the year softly by reading good books. Some of them I’ve been wanting to read for a while but never got to it, and others I just found out and got curious. So these are the books I picked for my December TBR:

  1. Vox by Christina Dalcher
  2. Verity by Colleen Hoover
  3. The Whisper Man by Alex North
  4. All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
  5. Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
  6. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
  7. Fable (#1) by Adrienne Young
  8. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  9. Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston
  10. Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly
  11. How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black
  12. The Project by Courtney Summers

I hope you liked my selections for this month! Like I’ve been doing lately, I added different options for when I’m in the mood to read a specific genre. If you are curious about what is currently on my tbr categories, click on the tab “TBR” above to find out.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind: Spatial Strategy to Success and Happiness by Alex Neumann

Harness the Power of the Invincible Mind: Spatial Strategy to Success and  Happiness - Kindle edition by Neumann, Alex. Self-Help Kindle eBooks @  Amazon.com.

“You are not what happens to you. You are far greater than the sum of all events and circumstances that happen in your life. Don’t identify with them. Rise above them!” 4/5 stars!

This is one of those books you will always want to keep near you. In fact, I swear this book came to me in the best time possible. I like to think of myself as a positive person, but the truth is that sometimes we go through phases in life that bring us down and make us question some things. Fortunately for me, there were some great things in this book that reminded me to put things in perspective and to reset my mindset.

I feel like the title doesn’t convey the true meaning of the book because when I first read it I was expecting a technical, rigid book… but instead I got a nice, wholesome conversation. It was easy for me to comprehend a lot of things the author said because I already try to follow this kind of mindset in my life, but I think this book would open a lot of people’s eyes to their attitudes and thoughts.

The book is composed of ten chapters and a small conclusion, focusing on different essential aspects that contribute to our happiness. I personally identified better with topics like how you shouldn’t care about other people’s opinions and to not let fear stop you from your goals, because that was what I needed to hear – or in this case, read. One thing I also liked about this book is how it’s filled with stories and examples. The author reinforces his lessons through both fictitious and real inspirational stories. Every story presented went really well with what the author was trying to say, and I appreciate how he incorporated people from different backgrounds (from fashion to technology)!

There is just one thing I wish was different. I had the opportunity to read a finished, published copy, so I was surprised to find some errors throughout the book. Not only that, but I found sentences that didn’t make a lot of sense and were written in a confusing way. It was nothing too bad and I was able to understand everything, but unfortunately this makes the book look a bit unprofessional. I wish the book was revised a few more times before actually being released to the market, but in all honesty it was not a huge deal to me because I was more focused on the content and these things can easily be fixed in the next edition.I’m not sure if an audiobook version is available, but I think it would be a great option to consider when picking up this book. Like I said, the book feels like a conversation, so I think that would work well in that specific format. Despite the errors, I honestly think the book is really good and it’s completely worth reading. It’s motivating and  very easy to read and to go through. It’s one of those books you can (and should) revisit from time to time, just so you can refocus on what’s really important. I recommend it for everyone who wants to live their best, happiest life!

***A big thank you to the author Alex Neumann for the free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review***

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.” 3.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: shiny conchs, flies, broken glasses, fruit, fires, pig heads, smoke and a set of rules.

I read this for the first time when I was in seventh grade and I remember thinking “what the hell did I just read?”. I’ve been thinking about it because more than a decade has passed and I forgot most of the story. It’s unfair to rate a book like this without giving it a fair shot, so I thought I should read it again now that I’m older. Also, I never saw the movie so I had almost zero memories of what the story was about. So… I finally picked it up.

The story is about a group of boys who gets stuck on a deserted island. They have no adults around, so they had to organize themselves to find food, build shelters and create smoke to signal their presence in case a boat passes by the island. Needless to say that things go south very easily when they understand how free they are. Their made up society quickly falls apart and savagery takes place instead.

So my thoughts after adult Neide read this are: I was honestly surprised to find out that my experience wasn’t that much better compared with the first time I read the book. Sure, I understood things on a different level now, but I completely understand why young Neide didn’t like the book as much. It’s not really about the story, but how slow paced and descriptive it is. I got bored so many times that at some point I just wanted the book to be over. I do appreciate the story and I honestly really liked the concept and the meaning behind it: it’s almost a reminder of how fragile our society and rules we live by are. It’s a very smart approach to the concept of utopia, society and the true nature of humanity. I still think it’s worth picking it because it is a memorable book, but if you don’t like very descriptive books, you may find this one a bit dreadful and slow paced.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

“Attraction isn’t something that only happens once, with one person. It’s part of what drives humans. Our attraction to each other, to art, to food, to entertainment. Attraction is fun. So when you decide to commit to someone, you aren’t saying, ‘I promise I’ll never be attracted to anyone else.’ You’re saying, ‘I promise to commit to you, despite my potential future attraction to other people.’” I look at Clara. “Relationships are hard for that very reason. Your body and your heart don’t stop finding the beauty and the attraction in other people simply because you’ve made a commitment to one person. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re drawn to someone else, it’s up to you to remove yourself from that situation before it becomes too hard to fight.” 4.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: suckers, watermelon jolly ranchers, group projects, nosy neighbours, free movie tickets, Starbucks coffee, the colour orange, secret letters, hotel rooms, birthday boards, films, cute babies and promposals.

The queen Colleen has done it again. This is such a good book! I’ve learned by now that Colleen’s books never disappoint me, so I just grab them and start reading. She always creates such unique stories with the craziest elements, and this one was no exception.

I didn’t know what the book was about when I picked it up and I decided to keep it that way because I knew there were going to be a lot of surprises and twists along the way. And I was right, the story was an emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. The only things you should know if you decide to pick this up is that it follows the relationship between Morgan and her teenage daughter, Clara. Their POV alternates between chapters, so you’ll know what each one of them is thinking and feeling. Clara feels like her mother is always predictable and boring, and she wants to be different than her. Meanwhile, Morgan is just trying to prevent her daughter to make the same mistakes she did when she was younger, which led her to never pursue her dreams to take care of her family. And in Colleen’s old fashion, something very tragic happens and we get a lot of surprises… and that’s all you need to know 🙂

And yes, there is romance here! In fact, both of them have their own romance story, which makes the book even more special. The story is very emotional, so keep tissues near you while you read because you will need them. The progression and pacing were great, the characters were fantastic – especially the grandpa – and the romances were super cute. And to top it all off, the ending was the sweetest thing ever!

My only negative point – and the reason why I’m giving it 4.5 instead of 5 stars – was Clara’s behaviour. I know she was going through a lot, but I just can’t get over what she did to the poor boy. But I don’t know… maybe I’m being insensitive, so take my opinion with a grain of salt!

I really loved this book and I highly recommend it if you like dramatic romances and if you are a fan of the author’s previous work. It’s completely worth it!

xoxo, Neide

Review | Cardcaptor Sakura collection (all 12 volumes) by CLAMP

“Everything will definitely be alright” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This series contains: unbreakable spells, penguin slides, cameras, cute handmade outfits, pink wands, high tech gadgets, yummy cakes, ghosts, stuffed bears, festivals, kimonos, sakura season and a set of nineteen magical cards.

*Review of the original 12 volumes*

*There will be some spoilers and comparisons to the anime throughout the review! Proceed with caution!*

I can’t even express how much I love this series. I watched the anime version of Cardcaptor Sakura when I was younger and it easily became my favorite anime of all time. Recently I found that it was available on Netflix and I decided to watch it for fun, but all my childhood memories came to life stronger than ever. This basically triggered in me a huge desire to read the original manga. I’m very happy to say that my first experience reading manga was very positive and I became even more in love with the story.

In case you don’t know what the story is about, it follows an elementary student named Sakura Kinomoto who accidentally sets free a set of magical cards – each one with it’s only special power and personality – that were guarded by Cerberos. The cards are running free and are causing chaos, so now she is responsible to get them all back and seal them again. With the help of Kero (Cerberus) and her best friend Tomoyo, she begins her mission to bring peace again to her town, Tomoeda.

It was interesting to see that there are a lot of differences between the manga and the anime, but I still think the core of the story was respected and kept. In the manga series we only have nineteen cards, while in the anime we have fifty-two (plus the seal card that only appears in the first Cardcaptor Sakura movie, so fifty-three)! Most of the characters are present in the original work, but there is no mention of Meilin or Wei – contrary to the anime -, so Syaoran travels and lives alone in Japan.

For me, Sakura is one of the best female main characters ever. She was such a huge inspiration to me when I watched the series for the first time, reminding me to always do my best and to be kind to everyone. There were times she was afraid, but that never stopped her from catching the cards and helping her friends. A true queen! Then you have Tomoyo, Sakura’s best friend and cousin… and she is also in love with her. I’m not even going to get started on the amount of incest relationships going on here between cousins because we don’t have an entire day, but I will say I feel bad for the poor girl. She is perfectly okay with Sakura’s love interests, because the most important thing for Tomoyo is her happiness. It was kind of sad that Tomoyo didn’t have her own shot at love, at least with another character. And as a side note, I wish I knew what happened to Tomoyo’s dad, but I know the authors keep it a secret on purpose!

I also found the manga version a little bit more “shocking” than the anime version. They definitely toned down on the animated series when it comes to relationships, because the manga version got crazy sometimes! There are not one, but TWO relationships between adults and elementary students! This was really shocking to see, and even though the first volume came out in 1996 and times were different back then, I still wish the kids kept the relationships within their peers. But what I REALLY wish happened was a bigger development in Touya and Yuki’s relationship! They’re absolutely perfect for each other and I wish they would develop more of their love story here, but to be honest there are not a lot of differences in the anime.

Now the main romance…. where do I even start? Are there even words to describe how perfect it is? This is a true slow burning, innocent and the sweetest romance ever… and all started from rivalry. Things are confusing at first because not only do they start their relationship as rivals on capturing the Clow Cards, but also when it comes to grabbing Yukito’s attention. They are both attracted to him, so the romance between them two only starts to blossom later on, on Syaoran’s side – because Sakura is completely clueless and it’s hilarious! We are presented with a lot of sweet and innocent moments between them, and their romance was definitely one of my favorite things of the manga.

I’m also glad that we get a lot of explanations that are never mentioned in the anime series. For example, we get to know the reason why Sakura feels all HANYAN around Yukito and Mizuki, while Syaoran is only attracted to Yukito. And there is also a major plot twist involving Sakura’s dad that I would never have expected!

I had to take a moment and wonder why I have such a strong love for this series. Sure, I watched the anime when I was younger so it’s natural I have a soft spot for it, but this never happened with any other tv show I watched when I was a kid. I really thought about it, and I realized that the manga is full of a lot of my favorite tropes. There is a strong female heroine who is a regular girl just trying to do her best; there is a slow burn cute romance that started from rivalry; there are a lot of references to yummy food and cakes; there are so many real friendships; there are special, inspiring outfits handmade just to catch the cards; the innocence of it all; and of course… Sakura’s magic is any little girl’s dream.

I swear I could talk about this series forever. I know I’m going to read and reread this for a very long time because I’m so in love with it. And now it’s time for Clear Arc! I confess I’m holding back a bit because the series is not finished yet! I know I will want to finish it in one sitting, so while I wait… I’ll just rewatch the anime 😉

xoxo, Neide

Review | They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

“Look around. Look at everyone else,” Shaila whispered into the huddle. “They wish they were us.”2/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: lost letters, red headbands, courage tests, text messages, Jell-O shots, diamond studs, raw cookie dough, preppy kids and true friendships.

I genuinely thought this would be a five star read, but the truth is that I almost DNF this book… three times! The characters were really annoying and I often wondered why I was wasting my time reading this book. I made an effort and I still finished it, not because I ended up liking the book – because I didn’t – but because I wanted to give it a fair opportunity. My main issues with this book were:

  1. I predicted who murdered Shaila about halfway through the book – and I was right;
  2. The only character I liked was Shaila. Yes, the most likeable person in this book was dead… I think that says a lot. 
  3. I tried to feel some sort of empathy for Jill but it just didn’t happen. Her problems felt too futile and privileged for me to feel sorry for her.
  4. I didn’t like the “challenges” that they were submitted to. It was all just stupid and too much in so many different ways.
  5. I didn’t understand why Graham did what he did the night Shaila was murdered – I won’t say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you already read the book you’ll probably know what I mean by this.

On a more positive note, I will say the book is realistic. I can see how something like this could happen in real life – especially the tests to enter an elitist group and the sexism. And I applaud who made the cover because it was absolutely beautiful!

Overall, it was boring and the chapters felt neverending! I usually don’t write such negative reviews but I’m just disappointed with this. I thought this would be right up my alley and I would love it, but it just wasn’t that good in my opinion.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: fireworks, IKEA furniture, opening houses, interviews, bank robbers, tulips, pizza, rabbit heads, stockholmers, suicide attempts, a bowl of limes and the worst hostages ever.

I’m not even going to waste my time trying to explain what this book is all about, because I wouldn’t even know where to start. This is such a weird book, but not in the bad sense. If you asked me what this book is really about, my only answer would be exactly: anxious people. But to not be so cryptical, I will say it all starts with a bank robber taking hostages at an open house showing. But trust me, that’s not even the important part, it’s so much more than that! My advice for you would be to go into the book without knowing too much about it. Just enjoy the experience… you’ll be in for a treat! There are a lot of twists and turns, and also a lot of surprises that will knock your socks off.

Fredrik Backman is one of those authors who has a very specific style of writing, and it definitely shows in this book. So if you like his work, it is most likely that you will like this book. I think he is an amazing author and if you never read anything from him before, you should definitely give him an opportunity.

I have to highlight the humour of it all, which is balanced perfectly with more serious topics. I laughed so many times throughout the book because of the characters and dialogs. The group of characters was hilarious and I swear I felt the frustration of the poor police officer who was trying to interview all the hostages. It’s weird how a book can both warm and break your heart.

It’s a book that reminds us that we are all human and we all have struggles and make mistakes, and that is okay. You can sense a very strong feeling for human connection and forgiveness with this book. I was very happy to see how everything came together so nicely and the surprising ending. If this was a real story, I would completely restore my faith in humanity.

I will say I lost some interest as the book progressed, but nothing too serious. I really did enjoy the book and I would still recommend it to everyone I know. I think the worst thing you can think about this book is that it’s interesting, and that’s saying a lot in my opinion.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

“I forget things—I know that—but I’m not mad. Not yet. And I’m sick of being treated as if I am. I’m tired of the sympathetic smiles and the little pats people give you when you get things confused, and I’m bloody fed up with everyone deferring to Helen rather than listening to what I have to say.” 4.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: dementia, suitcases, compact mirrors, peach cans, zucchinis, colorful birds, sticky notes, red lipstick, antiques, a crazy woman and a lot of secrets to unfold.

Wow, that was… unexpected. Unexpectedly amazing. I started this book without even knowing what it was about and I’m so happy I decided to read it. It’s one of those books I know I will never forget – no pun intended, I promise.

What makes this book so interesting is that it’s not only a mystery book with two different timelines, but the person who is trying to decipher it is a woman suffering with dementia. So on one side you want to unfold the mystery, but on the other side you get a good glimpse of what it is like to suffer from such a horrible disease. I really want to approach each thing separately because there’s so much I want to talk about.

Let’s start with our main character and her memory problems. I’m not going to lie, it was heartbreaking to watch Maud so closely and be a part of her daily life. Maybe it’s because I have someone in my life that suffers from the same condition, but Maud’s story hit me like a ton of bricks. And I cannot stress this enough, but I was so surprised with the representation because it’s so accurate! I have to applaud the author because it’s more than obvious she put in a lot of effort to put together this amazing, complex character. It was mind blowing to me how she was able to put together this experience for the reader. From the moment you get into the book, you know as much as Maud. And that’s exactly the problem. Maybe Maud knows about what happened to Elizabeth or maybe she doesn’t… you only know what Maud knows. The story is told in first person and it was so well made that you can only understand what happened in the past with the intervention of secondary characters like her daughter, police officers and her carers. For example, when Maud said she wanted to make a toast because she hadn’t eaten all day, the carer would remind her she ate almost an entire loaf of bread that same day because she won’t stop eating. It’s crazy, but so good! So don’t worry if you feel confused or you don’t understand what’s going on at first… just keep going, I promise it’s worth it. It’s meant to be confusing and Maud is supposed to be unreliable.

Now the mystery the book revolves around. I honestly couldn’t even think of how this book could possibly end. I often wondered throughout the book if I could really trust Maud and her memory. I think my main questions throughout this book were “is Elizabeth really missing?”, “is she dead?”, and also “did her son do something to her?”. This mystery kept me entertained until the end! And I was very satisfied with the ending, things really do come full circle!

On a smaller note, I also appreciate the little illustrations presented before the beginning of each chapter. Small details like this add something special to the book.

I have to admit this book took me by surprise. I never thought this would end the way it did and I kept guessing what was going on until the very end. I recently found out this has a movie adaptation and I’m very curious about it, but I don’t know if I have the courage to watch it to be honest! The book was very well executed, it’s very interesting, the pace is great and I can’t recommend it enough.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

“Just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Some of the most wonderful things in the world are invisible. Trusting in invisible things makes them more powerful and wondrous.” 3.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: paper birds, elders, goat milk, abandoned babies, swamp monsters, volcanoes, tiny dragons, sycamore trees, boots, chatty crows, sorrow, birthmarks, tiger hearts, moonlight and star children.

I saw this book EVERYWHERE and everyone seems to love it, so I wanted to see what it was all about. And even though I liked the book overall, I still feel conflicted. On one side, I thought the story was magical and it made me dream, because it’s told like a fairytale and you get completely immersed in this fictional world. It is a very atmospheric book because the author does an amazing job on awakening your senses – I swear I could almost hear the birds chirping, smell the woods and feel the magic from the moon.

But on the other side, I found the pacing very slow at times and there were so many “important” points of view that at some point the story felt like too much. You have the witch, Luna, Luna’s mother, the boy who was an ex-elder, the “sorrow woman” and even other characters with smaller roles – like the creatures and the boy’s uncle. It was just too much. I personally think the core of the story is really good, but there were too many things that were added to the story that weren’t necessary. Maybe if the story was focused only on the three main points of view – the witch’s, Luna’s and the boy’s – and was kept simple, it would show it’s true beauty. The unnecessary complexity of the story was one my major down points for this book.

The characters were adorable, and I promise you will fall in love with a lot of them! I loved how there were two magical creatures added to the mix: not only do we get Fyrian – a tiny, adorable dragon -, but we also get Glerk – a swamp monster who loves poetry. And the witch was the sweetest woman with the kindest heart.. and the magical grandmother everyone wants in their lives. She was probably my favorite character!

It’s definitely a story that makes you dream and takes you to a magical place. It’s targeted as middle grade, but it’s really a beautiful story for every age. It wasn’t the best book ever, but hey, it was still pretty cute. Maybe I should consider reading more middle grade books?

xoxo, Neide