Review | The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

“I believe my purpose is to bring joy to people, to make them laugh, and to share my story to help them. To show people that no matter what, they matter, and they can succeed. No matter how bad things go, no matter how dark your life is, there is a reason for it. You can find beauty in it, and you can get better. I know, because I’ve done it. That’s why my comedy so often comes from my pain. In my life, and I hope in yours, I want us to grow roses out of the poop.” 3.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: comedy nights, domestic abuse, car accidents, groupons, bar mitzvahs, reading difficulties, pimps, celebrities, marriages, parties, free bags, foster care system, pain, growth and success.

Placed in the foster care system as a teen, and struggling to read at a basic level in ninth grade, Haddish found that humor and jokes helped her endure. When offered a choice between the Laugh Factory comedy camp or counseling to help recover from issues within the foster system, she chose the former and found her calling. In her first book, Haddish recounts her early life straight through to her powerhouse success both on the comedy circuit and in Hollywood with the 2017 film Girls Trip.

Wow, Tiffany went through a lot in her life. I never knew much about her other than what I saw in a few interviews in random talk shows, but to me she always came across as a very funny and humble person. After reading this book I found out she had a very difficult life – not only growing up, but also as an adult -, which surprised me because she always looks so positive and happy. She went through some crazy things, but it’s really inspiring to me how she always kept her smile and kept going to overcome her problems. 

But even though I love her and I think she’s hilarious, I wish her book was just as amazing. First off, I will say I understand the many bad reviews this book has. Throughout the book, Tiffany uses her comedian humour to go through her good and bad life experiences, but her humour can sometimes come across as insensitive. There are some chapters in this book that not everyone is going to enjoy – like for example, the Roscoe chapter. This chapter in particular will rub off a lot of people the wrong way, and I completely understand it. I personally don’t think she comes from a bad place when she is telling some of these stories so I didn’t get angry about what she said, but I know not everyone is going to enjoy this book for her choice of words. So keep that in mind if you decide to read this book, because you may find some of the things she says offensive and problematic.

Another big thing for me was the pacing and timeline of the book. I felt like the book was lacking in structure, connection and depth. Some chapters were composed by really random stories that had no connection with each other, some stories required some more depth and the timeline got very confusing. Overall, the quality of how the book was put together did not impress me, and unfortunately that reflects on my rating.

Other than that, I thought the book was very funny. I just kept laughing and thinking “this girl is absolutely crazy” the entire time. Of course there are happier stories in here, but there are a lot of sad stories like the story of her ex-husband. I would say the bar mitzvah old man story and the pimp story were two of my favorites – I almost peed my pants laughing at the end of this last one! Another thing I liked is how honest she is in her book. For a celebrity book, she was bold to be this honest! But I appreciate the authenticity of her words.

I listened to the audiobook version and I loved it because she is the narrator. I’m not sure I would like the book as much if I read the digital/physical copy, because the audiobook version feels very authentic. It’s like your friend is telling you her crazy stories, so it feels like a casual and relaxed conversation. I would definitely recommend the audiobook version.

Tiffany is a very humble, strong person. She definitely deserves her success and recognition.

xoxo,

Review | Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

“You don’t get to decide what your life means to anyone else.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: trophies, sketches, bedtime stories, suicide letters, black labradors, identical twins, bathing suits, pills, donuts, statues of Jesus, graveyards, tattoos and family secrets.

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Unlike most of Colleen’s books, this is a true young adult book. She usually mixes things up and does mostly new adult and adult, so I wasn’t expecting a full on young adult book – and I loved it! 

This story is about a girl named Merit. She lives with her family in a repurposed church, but she doesn’t get along with any of her family members except for her four year-old step-sibling. And why not, you may ask? Well, long story short: she doesn’t get along with her twin sister because they’re polar opposites; she barely speaks to her older brother; her mother is afraid of leaving the basement where she currently lives and, to top it all off, her dad lives in the same house… with his current wife and new kid. Crazy enough for you? Spoiler alert: it gets worse; but you will have to read the book to find out! Merit is tired of all the family secrets she holds and to feel like an outsider, so she decides to expose every secret and leave them for good. But things don’t go as planned… and that’s all I’m going to tell you.

I went blindly into this book – like I usually do – because I wanted to be surprised. And I was. I think what makes this story so memorable for me is how weird it is. Merit’s household was insane! Everytime you feel like your family is crazy, just go back to this story and I guarantee you will feel better.

This is the kind of book that will make you think and give you a new perspective. A big thing I took away from this book is how we underestimate communication so often. If Merit and her family talked about their problems to each other, they would grow closer. Also, people always say twins have a strong connection to each other, but this book made me wonder if that applies to every set of twins. I never entertained the idea of having identical twins that don’t share a connection, but it makes sense right? Not everyone is going to get along.

What also surprised me was how full of triggers this book was. Of course there is romance, but it’s not the main theme of the book. Topics like mental health, depression, suicide and substance abuse are only a few of the most important ones mentioned in the book.

I listened to the audiobook, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the narrator. She did a great job narrating the book, but she sounded way too old for a seventeen year old.

It was a good, entertaining book. I know I will never forget it because it was very different and unique.

xoxo,

Books I want to finish before 2021

I always get inspired by new beginnings and fresh starts, so naturally one of my favorite times of the year is New Year’s Eve. Before you ask: yes, I’m the kind of person who likes to make plans for the year and define goals – and actually stick to them throughout the year. But for that to happen, I always try to take care of my unfinished business before going into the new year so I can start it with a clean slate. 

I have the habit of reading more than one book at a time because I like to pick up what I’m feeling at the moment. If I’m in the mood for a romance, I can pick up the romance novel I’m currently reading. If I’m craving mystery, I can easily pick up my current mystery book. This is how I do my reading and it always worked well for me. But as a consequence of this constant rotation, I’m currently reading 5 books at the same time. My hope is to finish them before 2021 so I can create a fresh TBR list and focus only on what I want to read next. 

There is just a teeny tiny problem. I’m going through a reading slump right now so I don’t know if I will finish all the books before the beginning of the year. But hey, I’m always up for a challenge and I still have hope I can do this!

Without further ado, here are the 5 books I need to finish before 2021:

  1. Vox by Christina Dalcher (219 pages left)
    I’m about a third of the book right now and I’m not very impressed. I wanted to read it because I thought the concept was really cool but I don’t like where the story is going. We will have to wait and see, but I’m not super motivated to finish this.
  1. Fable (#1) by Adrienne Young (278 pages left)
    I’m liking Fable and I think I can finish this book easily. I haven’t gone too far yet, but I will say it’s probably the most interesting book from this selection!
  2. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover (54 pages left)
    I’m confident I will finish this today. I’m really enjoying this and I’m even more motivated to finish it because I know I’m almost done with it!
  3. The Whisper Man by Alex North (344 pages left)
    I only read about 10% of this book but I’m really enjoying it. This is the book I made the least progress, but I’m not too worried about it because I’m liking it so far.
  4. Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky (547 pages left)
    Last but not least… this book. Oh boy, this book. This is the one that I’m the most worried about! I’ve been reading this book for months now and I’m not even halfway through it. It’s not that I’m disliking the story, but the book is SO big that it feels like it will never end – it’s almost 900 pages! I feel demotivated just by looking at it. The story itself is really good and I’m enjoying it a lot, so I want to make an effort and finish it before 2021. Wish me luck!

It’s not a big list, but since I’m on a reading slump I know this will be a challenge. Like I said, I’m still hopeful I’ll finish all of these but I will be more impressed with myself if I finally finish Imaginary Friend. Wish me luck!

xoxo, Neide

Review | Dearly: New Poems by Margaret Atwood

“Lions don’t know they are lions.
They don’t know how brave they are.”
3/5 stars!

In Dearly, Margaret Atwood’s first collection of poetry in over a decade, Atwood addresses themes such as love, loss, the passage of time, the nature of nature and – zombies. Her new poetry is introspective and personal in tone, but wide-ranging in topic. In poem after poem, she casts her unique imagination and unyielding, observant eye over the landscape of a life carefully and intuitively lived.

While many are familiar with Margaret Atwood’s fiction—including her groundbreaking and bestselling novels The Handmaid’s TaleThe TestamentsOryx and Crake, among others—she has, from the beginning of her career, been one of our most significant contemporary poets. And she is one of the very few writers equally accomplished in fiction and poetry.  This collection is a stunning achievement that will be appreciated by fans of her novels and poetry readers alike.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t love it!

The majority of the poems were about travelling, her sister – I’m assuming she lost a sister from what I’ve read – and the environment. There are also sprinkles of other topics here and there – like the poem where she talks about her grandmother, for example.

One thing I found interesting is the amount of animal references this book has. The author mentions so many animals,from spiders, slugs, birds, wolves, bears, whales and much more! She’s clearly very inspired by nature and I loved how she took that inspiration and made clever metaphors.

I will say I liked how the collection of poems felt so personal. It’s obvious she poured her heart into these poems because it shows. Some of my favorites were “If There Were No Emptiness” and “Shadow”. She is clearly very talented and I’m surprised this is her first collection of poetry in over a decade!

There were some poems I liked and others I didn’t like as much. The book overall just wasn’t my style, so I’m going to keep myself neutral in this one. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it.

xoxo,

Review | How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air #3.5) by Holly Black

“A heart of stone can still be broken.” 3.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: bubble tea, tails, a basket of bones, stories and stone hearts.

An irresistible return to the captivating world of Elfhame.

Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue.

Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone . Revealing a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king, Cardan, his tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective.

This new installment in the Folk of the Air series is a return to the heart-racing romance, danger, humor, and drama that enchanted readers everywhere. Each chapter is paired with lavish and luminous full-color art, making this the perfect collector’s item to be enjoyed by both new audiences and old.

I was super excited to pick this up because I fell in love with this trilogy when I first read it. The world of Faerie was one of the most interesting settings I’ve read about this year, so I was more than happy to return to it! 

I could describe what this story is about by using two quotes from the book: “a heart of stone can still be broken” and “boys change and so do stories”. This novella – unlike the trilogy – is not about Jude… it’s about Cardan. If you read the series you know how poorly he treated Jude, and this novella explains some of his actions and attitudes. We are given a small window to his life and we get to see what he has been through while growing up and how much he has changed. Oh, and did I mention there are also BEAUTIFUL drawings throughout the story?

The story has its own sparkle and uniqueness, but it’s not a novella you HAVE to read (in my opinion). A few interesting things are brought up but it doesn’t add too much to the main story. I would say the coolest things about this novella were the tales and the drawings, because they brought the story to life and gave it the perfect fairytale feel.

It’s a simple book, but if you read the books from the trilogy and you liked it you will probably enjoy this too. It was entertaining!

xoxo,