Review | Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

“I’d done the right thing. I always did. It just would have been nice if someone had noticed.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: lollipops, pizza slices, wheelchairs, newspapers, studio time, altered clocks, thrift stores, carousels, creepy “friends” and saints for every possible situation.

Another great Sarah Dessen book. What took me by surprise though was the fact that this was not as sumery as her other books. Surprisingly there were no beaches, lakes or rivers involved. The setting was in Lakeview, but there were no aquatic activities and the kids were in school, so I guess it wasn’t exactly summer. It didn’t bother me because what I like about her books – and you can see it in this book too – is that she writes stories that make you forget about the real world. Her books are so atmospheric that you get immersed in the story and forget all the rest. In this book in particular, I swear at some points I smelled the pizza they were eating – and yes, I got hungry a few times, but can you blame me?

Not only that, but she is really good at triggering her readers’ emotions. The entire book is an emotional rollercoaster! I laughed, I cried, I got scared, I got frustrated, I got angry, and the list goes on. I felt so bad for the main character Sydney and how her parents kept neglecting her and how they treated her near the end. I swear I could feel her pain and frustration for the way she was being treated, all because of her brother’s past actions.

Sarah also writes really good friendships and interesting friends, which I also appreciate. I loved the family that Sydney got close to, who was like a second family to her and was there for her when her parents weren’t. Speaking of characters, Ames really annoyed me. I felt so scared for Sydney when her parents invited him to stay in their house alone with her TWICE. That’s crazy! I would also be scared if I was in her position… he was a creep!

I liked this book because it felt like a complete story. You get a dose of romance, hard hitting moments, a very real and deep backstory and a great setting/atmosphere. Not my favorite book from her, but it’s still a very solid book in my opinion.

xoxo, Neide

My fear of big books

Hi my name is Neide, I’m twenty five years old and I’m afraid of big books. Big books can be scary and intimidating to pick up if you are used to reading small to medium size books. Maybe you are like me and you are interested in reading some big books because you think they look cool or interesting, but when you look at them you think “well… maybe another day”. That’s how I feel, but at least I know I’m not alone in this because it’s actually a very common feeling amongst readers.

So what is my definition of a big book? Each person has their own idea of what is too much, but for me personally a big book has at least five hundred pages. So why don’t I pick books like this more often? Well, in a nutshell: they look intimidating and I get bored easily. I know some people like big books because they like the experience of spending a lot of time in a specific world, but I feel exactly the opposite. I have a hard time leaving books unfinished if I’m not enjoying them – I’m trying to fight that too, but that’s a topic for another day -, so when I get tired of reading the same book it’s difficult for me to keep myself motivated to continue reading and finish the book.

And yes, I’ve accumulated a bunch of big books that I’m actually interested in reading, but they just sit on my shelves and I never touch them. Below are some examples of big books I really want to read but never picked up – just keep in mind that I have the portuguese editions of each book so that’s why the covers and titles are different, but I’m still going to refer below the original titles.

  1. The Host (A Nómada) – Stephanie Meyer (836 pages)
  2. The Starless Sea (Um Mar Sem Estrelas)  – Erin Morgenstern (528 pages)
  3. The Good Daughter (A Boa Filha) – Karin Slaughter (701 pages)
  4. Imaginary Friend (Amigo Imaginário) – Stephen Chbosky (864 pages)
  5. Pet Sematary (Samitério de Animais) – Stephen King (464 pages)
  6. El Bosque Sabe Tu Nombre (As Filhas da Floresta) – Alaitz Leceaga (624 pages)

You have to admit these books look really good! Stephen King’s Pet Sematary doesn’t reach the five hundred pages mark, but I still decided to include it in this bunch just because it’s not far from being a big book. But the title of champion of big books goes to Stephen Chbosky’s Imaginary Friend, which has eight hundred and sixty four pages! If this is not intimidating, I don’t know what is.

So… this needs to stop. At the beginning of this year I decided to face this fear of mine and finally pick up some big books. I really want to read these until the end of the year and I will do my best to keep my word, even though I know it is going to be tough. The good news is that I usually end up happy for giving a chance to books like this because I know afterwards they were worth the effort. I’m going to practice what I preach, so I decided my goal for August is to read the champion of book pages, Imaginary Friend. I know I will probably struggle, but I will do my best to finish it – yikes, wish me luck!

If you have these first world problems like me, please know you are not alone! I hope this encourages you in any way to get out of your comfort zone. Be brave, grab that book that is waiting for you and you will (probably) not regret it.

Stay healthy and wash your hands!

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

“There is always the rest of the story, right? Even if you don’t know right now what it is.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: sailing, docks, teeth gaps, birth classes, obituaries, club proms, honeymoons, motel rooms, kangaroos, driving lessons, old photographs, home renovation shows, five sentences, ladder buddies, butter and toast, sparklers, storms and walkie talkies.

I didn’t know how much I needed to read a complex, complete novel like this. This was so good! I read a lot of summer books, but it’s difficult to find an amazing one between the thousandths on the market… and to me, this is a great example of a perfect summer book.

It may look like your average summer read, but don’t be fooled! The story is full of details and the characters have depth, and there is an actual meaning and lesson. This is a coming of age story about a girl finding out who she really is by knowing the story of her mother who died when she was little. She lived with her dad her entire life, but she never knew much about her mother’s life and family. Well, at least until she spent a few weeks with her mother’s family during the summer while her father was away. And then she started to understand where she came from and her mother’s story.

The setting was one of my favorite things about this book. The entire book screamed summer and I loved how atmospheric the book was. I was immersed in the story the entire time and I felt like I was there with the family too. There were so many moments where my emotions were triggered because I felt like laughing, crying and sometimes I even got scared. Looking back to other summer books I’ve read before, I see that they can have summery and cutesy elements… but this book is not even in the same league. 

What I also liked so much about this book is that you know it’s a book that took some time to write. You can see the details and effort put in this book through the pages, and that is what makes it so awesome to me. 

I loved everything about this book. I loved the characters – especially Trinity, who may not be very likeable for some people but I loved her -, the details of the story, the writing is perfect, there’s a cute romance in there, there’s a lake… I mean, it’s a perfect summer book.

I think the cherry on top of the cake would be if the book ended with Trinity giving birth and the sergeant coming back, but I’m not mad with the way it ended. 

Take some notes writers, this is how you write an amazing summer book! I need to get my hands on all Sarah Dessen books, ASAP.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Carrie by Stephen King

Carrie, Stephen King - 11x17

“High school isn’t a very important place. When you’re going you think it’s a big deal, but when it’s over nobody really thinks it was great unless they’re beered up.” 4/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: telekinesis, pigs, prom dresses, closets, crucifixes, fires, explosions, sewing machines, sharp knives, bibles, rain of rocks and a lot of blood.

I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King’s books, but from what I saw I think he is one of those authors that either makes really good books or terrible books. I read Elevation and gave it one star – and trust me, it takes a lot for me to rate a book with one star -, and now I read Carrie and I actually thought it was really good. I was curious to read the book because I saw the most recent movie adaptation with Chloë Moretz and I thought the concept was interesting. Also, I want to read more classics and cult favorites so I thought this would be a great starting point.

I thought the book and movie versions had some noticeable differences, even though the main scenes were very similar. I’m not sure, but I think in the movie version her mother died in a different way… but I can’t remember for sure, to be honest. One thing I really liked about the book was how the author incorporated news and interviews that occurred after what happened, while he told Carrie’s story. The story is so heartbreaking and I felt so bad for Carrie, I just wanted to give the poor girl a hug and be her friend. The bullying was terrible and too much for anyone to handle, especially in that shower scene.

I also love that the book has a deeper meaning. You can sense the strong feeling of wanting to belong and to fit in with peers. And that comes not only from our main character Carrie, but also from her colleagues.

If you don’t like blood or if it makes you uncomfortable, this is not the book for you! This is more of a gore-horror kind of book, so be aware that there is a lot of blood in a lot of scenes. 

Oh, and did I mention I read it in one sitting? I have to give another opportunity to Stephen King.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: pointy ears, fake human money, swordplay, salt, leather sandals, enchantments, fairy fruit, poisons, fox eyes, twin sisters, secret passages, golden acorns, masks, royalty rings and a lot of spilled blood.

What a rollercoaster of emotions… I’m very impressed. I’m just glad the entire trilogy is already available, because I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t continue this series right away. I knew this was a fairy book and I never read anything like this before, so I admit I was a little skeptical to pick this up. Well, surprise surprise… I actually enjoyed it a lot.

The cool thing about this book is that even though it’s a literal “fairy tale”, it has a darker approach. Sure, you have fairies here, but don’t expect fairies like Tinkerbell. Oh no. These fairies are not delicate little creatures. They are human-like creatures – well, for the most part -, and they have kingdoms and power, and they REALLY like violence.

The story is about a girl that lived with her parents, her twin sister and her big sister. But one day, a weird looking man comes to their door, kills their parents and takes the girls to where he lives: the fairy world. So the story follows one of the twins ten years later and her daily life. She goes to school like the other magical kids, but her and her twin sister are constantly bullied for being human. All she wants is to be accepted and to feel like she belongs there too, just like the others. Until one day she had enough and she defies the prince, who also believes she does not belong there. Of course that brings a lot of bad consequences for her and her twin sister, but she tries her best to retaliate and prove to the others that she deserves to live there just like them.

I honestly think if you decide to go into this book, you shouldn’t know more than this because of how much the story progresses and changes. 

When the story began, I thought it would be about the older sister because she’s the magical one of the trio and the only reason for why they left the human world. So I was surprised to see that the story actually followed one of the twins instead of the big sister, but it was a good surprise. I really liked Jude and how strong she was. I liked how she always kept her dignity and fought back, and how she stood up to her bullies. I can’t say the same thing about her twin sister Taryn, though. The twins were very different from each other, and even though I know it’s normal that twins have different personalities, I thought they would have a stronger bond with each other. There was a lot of miscommunication between them and unfortunately that brought them a lot of problems to their relationship.

Sometimes I can understand easily why some books have very mixed reviews, but I honestly don’t understand the dispersed review in this one. I think the main reason is because of how the fairies are represented, since it’s not a traditional view. And to top that, it’s not a “rainbows and butterflies” kind of story but more of a dark, violent one. Other than that, I don’t understand the mixed reviews.I’m a sucker for dark stories, and this is a great one. I usually stick to dark contemporaries and I never tried something like this before, but I’m glad I gave it a shot. My first fae book has a five star rating… who would have thought? I know a novella is coming out this Fall – which I believe is the last published work in this series – and I’m very excited for it. Until then, I’m definitely continuing the series!

xoxo, Neide

Review | Educated by Tara Westover

“My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs.” 4/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: Mormonism, rolled up sleeves, birth certificates, roommates, ballet slippers, heads in toilets, car accidents, mountains, newborn babies, exams, herbs, baby deliveries, a good education and a lot of physical abuse.

Where do I even start with this book? This was a very hard book to rate. To be honest I’m still not sure about how I feel after reading it, but I’m still going to share some of my thoughts anyways.

First of all, I think she is clearly a very strong, inspiring person. I honestly can’t even imagine what it was like to be on her shoes not only growing up, but also knowing that her family situation didn’t change even after she left the house. I’m very impressed that she was able to go to college and get really good grades in most subjects! The fact that she got so far with her education knowing that she never went to school, didn’t have her family’s support and didn’t know a lot of simple things that for most of us is common knowledge, sounds so crazy to me! The sad part is that I think she probably still doesn’t know a lot of simple/common things to this day, but my hope is that she is keeping her efforts to learn new things and improve herself. I’m very glad she decided to write a book about her life.

At some points in the book I got really frustrated. I honestly felt her pain and I felt tired for her. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have to deal with such a dysfunctional, irrational family that controls your life and brainwashes you by using religion as an excuse. My family is not perfect by far, but this was another level of crazy. I hated her brother. Like, true hatred. Well, to be fair I also didn’t like her dad, but at least he didn’t abuse her and her siblings physically like her brother did. But what bothered me the most was how she kept giving excuses for her brother’s behaviour and she tried to laugh it off in public so that people wouldn’t understand what was really going on. Not only that, but she kept on “accepting” the abuse and being controlled by her dad and brother. I just hated how in one second they were good to her and then the next second treated her like garbage and called her names. Well, don’t even get me started on name calling… what her brother called her really disgusted me. Especially when she found out that one of the words had a very powerful meaning. And I know they probably have mental issues and I know she didn’t know/couldn’t do any better at that time, but it still broke my heart and I wish I was there to defend her when nobody else did. Which is a great segway to introduce the other amazing family member: the mom. I have to admit, the mother was one of the family members that confused me the most. You would think that a mother would defend her child no matter what… but she just watched and did nothing. Sometimes she was on Tara’s side and the next minute she was on her husband’s side, agreeing with whatever he said about Tara. I just… ugh, I was so frustrated that everyone around her was such a bad influence. Fortunately for her, she had a great brother that helped her and encouraged her to study and tell her that there was a world outside of the mountains. Tyler was the ultimate MVP – and probably the only other sane person in that family…. just saying.

I also wonder how her family reacted when she told them she decided to write a book about her life. Because she basically put her family members – especially her dad and brother – on blast, and I would love to know what happened next and what were their thoughts since the book became so popular.

One thing I like to add is that I wish she narrated her own book. Don’t get me wrong, the narrator did a great job telling her story, but since this is such a personal book I think she should have narrated her herself. I know it would be even more powerful, without a doubt.

I completely understand why this book won a Goodreads award and I highly recommend it too. Damn… there really are some effed up families out there. Trigger warning for physical and mental abuse!

xoxo, Neide

Review | Say Yes Summer by Lindsey Roth Culli

“I’ve got a hot date tonight – I see the excitement flash across Nona’s face – with a book.” 3.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: crosswords, ice cream carts, self-help books, empty passports, borrowed hoodies, boat rides, difficult hikes, bungee jump rides and a lot of deflecting.

I have to admit, the cover did it again. A cover made me buy a book. I know, I know… I shouldn’t buy a book only by it’s cover. But I did it and I’m not ashamed of that. The cover is gorgeous, colorful and screams summer read! Fortunately for me, that’s exactly what I got: a cutesy YA summer read! 

And even though I liked the book, there were some things that I wasn’t a fan of. I think overall the pacing was great, but for me the ending felt rushed. I just wish there was a better way to wrap up the story, because it felt very unrealistic the way things turned out. But I think my main problem with this book was the main character, Rachel, and her behaviour dealing with the boys. In case you don’t know, there is a pretty solid love triangle in this book – that for a second made me wonder who she would end up with, and I liked that – and what really bothered me was how she decided to date both guys AT THE SAME TIME. I mean… come on girl. She was very childish and immature at some points, and her behaviour made her a not likeable character for me. The thing that makes me kind of conflicted is that other than those characteristics, I also saw myself in her in other ways. For example, I loved the Marie Kondo references throughout the book! “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is one of my all time favorite self-development books and it was fun to see it being referenced in some chapters. She is an organizational freak like me, and I loved how she said that when she took tests she didn’t even think about possibly failing. She always did her best and that was her daily routine. Period.

But those weren’t the only things that made me relate to Rachel. What I really liked about this book is that even though it’s a summery, light read, it actually sends a powerful message. I was a “no” person for most of my life, and the last few years I’ve been trying to push my boundaries and trying new things because I felt like I wasn’t actually living. So, just like her, I started to say “yes” to opportunities and things that scared me. And to be completely honest, saying “yes” allowed me to have amazing experiences and memories that I will never forget nor regret. And well, this all sounds amazing and inspiring and all that, but the truth is that in reality there are some situations when you have to say “no”. And that was what really spoke to me in this book. I also tried to be a “yes” person just like Rachel, but I had to learn by myself that always saying “yes” is not always a good idea. You need to use your common sense and discover by yourself a healthy balance between what could be a “yes” and what is definitely a “no”. So yeah, I really appreciate the message of this book.

Like I said a million times by now: it’s a cute summer read with a good message. So if you’re looking for something to read at the beach – or indoors, because COVID-19 is still a thing -, this is a good option.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

“Beauty loses its meaning when you’re surrounded by too much of it.” 3.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: waterfalls, interrogation rooms, moving walls, black dresses, showcases, Poe’s poems, pregnancy tests, ceramics, carousels, sad dragons, perfectly peeled oranges, tattooed butterfly wings and beautiful gardens.

This was probably one of my most anticipated reads for this year… and I have to say I’m disappointed. When I heard about this book for the first time, I knew I had to pick it up. A killer who kidnaps girls and tattoos their backs with butterfly wings? My first thought was “I need this book ASAP”. 

Maybe I had high expectations. I already had a clear idea in my mind of how this book would be before I read it and I was super excited to finally pick it up, and then I got disappointed with the outcome. 

I think the biggest problem for me was the book format. I honestly don’t think the writing is bad, but the way the author decided to approach the story ruined it for me. Well, in case you haven’t read it yet, the entire book is divided ONLY into three parts. There are no chapters to finish “scenes”, only small breaks that have no reason to exist given the context. The story just keeps going and going, and if you want to put the book down you will have to stop at the end of a random paragraph or small break – like I had to do several times – and I didn’t like that. But that’s not even my main issue with this book. It’s written in a very confusing way! It’s hard to explain but even though the story is told without breaks, the girl who’s being questioned keeps going back and forth with the timeline of events. So as you can probably imagine, sometimes the story gets difficult to follow. I also think the story would be more interesting if it followed the girl during her time at the Garden instead of a police interrogation – but what do I know? I’m not a writer.

And then I thought, “okay, but the ending is going to be good and then I’ll rate this higher”. Wrong again. The ending did not impress me. The story felt incomplete and I wish some things would be better explained and developed. It was only a “meh” ending in my opinion.

But I’m happy to say that not everything was bad. Like I said before, I really liked the concept and story overall. The story was very creative and creepy, and I loved the smallest details. For example, one thing I really liked was how the author mentions what species is tattooed on each girl. That gave me the opportunity to google each species and get a clear picture of what was described of their backs. The book is very detailed and I liked how the environment was described. I also liked how raw and honest the main character was. She suffered a lot in her life and she was very honest but couldn’t be sweet or pretend that things would be alright. She accepted the world she lived in and she was very aware of her reality. I know probably it’s an unpopular opinion, but I actually liked her. I also loved how the girls would be together in their rooms and chat, and how everyone had different hobbies to deal with their daily lives. Every single girl had her own personality and likes and even though they were all very different from each other, their circumstances brought them together and made them a true family.

What makes me sad is that this book had so much potential to be incredible. The story itself is actually really good and creative, I just wish the approach was different. I know that this book is part of a series and I’m tempted to pick the next book up just to see how it goes, but I’m not sure for now. Ergh, I really wanted to love this one!

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman

“So, if you’re asking me if it’s possible for you to make errors in judgement, the answer is yes. You make errors all the time… as does every other human being who has ever lived. Error is an intrinsic part of the human condition – and it is something I deeply love about humankind.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: mass gleanings, vaults, revivals, midnight cravings, broadcasts, islands, blind spots, bunkers, diamonds, automatic cars, earpieces, ex nimbo agents, rockets, deleted iterations and sweet reencounters.

Neal Shusterman sure knows how to end a series… wow, what a ride! I honestly can’t believe no one made a movie out of this series yet! Seriously, why is everyone sleeping on this?

Looking back and comparing the first book to last book, this one is very different. In the first book you are introduced to the two main characters and even though it’s a dystopia, the entire book still has a very normal/human vibe – sorry, I don’t know how else to describe it -, and in this one the science-fiction aspect is very strong and there are a lot of technologic and A.I. elements to it. I honestly would have never guessed how this series would develop because the story was always changing direction and was overall very unpredictable. For me that was a good thing because it kept me interested and wondering on what would happen next.

I confess I was really curious to know how the author would follow up the second book’s cliffhanger – because boy on boy… that ending was intense to say the least – and I was not disappointed with the outcome. The story progressed in a different direction that I expected and the two main characters were kind of left in the background for this one, but I didn’t mind that.

In contrast with the first book and second book where there were passages from the scythes diaries and thoughts from the thunderhead respectively, in this one we get passages from thunderhead’s iterations – can’t talk too much about that too because I don’t want to spoil anything! But it was an amazing and genius addition to the book.

And that ending… wow. For those who read the book will understand when I say: I can’t believe he waited all that time… the ending was beautiful.

The funniest thing for me is that I’m not a science-fiction fan, but I can say without a doubt that this was one of the best series I’ve read not only this year, but ever. Highly recommend it if you never picked it up, it’s completely worth it!

xoxo, Neide

Review | You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

“If I had to choose my favorite, you’d be mine.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: amusement parks, tiger plushies, small bikinis, revenge lyrics, fiddles, gems, ball caps, red carpets, award ceremonies, good looking jeans and barefoot dances.

It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes I turn on my Spotify, I play my favorite country playlist and I sing like I was born in Tennessee. It’s not something that I do on a regular basis, but I really enjoy country music whenever I listen to it. And since the only thing I knew about this book is that it was about two young country singers – I didn’t know too much about what the story was about, as usual -, I was automatically interested.

This story is about a very talented, young country singer named Annie Mathers, who is the daughter of two of the most famous country singers ever – and unfortunately they died when she was younger.  She is part of a band with her two best friends – a fiddler and a drummer – and she shares her gift of singing like an angel with small audiences. They have a few fans of their own but most people know Annie for her parents’ legacy. One day, something very unexpected happens. She gets an invitation to be the opening act for the tour concerts of the country superstar Clay Coolidge. He has a bad reputation because of his bad behaviour, and his label company is threatening to drop him if he doesn’t convince her to be part of the tour to make him look better. The band accepts to be part of Clay’s shows, but not everything runs smoothly. There is some tension between the groups, especially between the two singers! So everyone has a very interesting tour across the country…

What I liked so much about this book is the atmosphere created. To me, a good book makes you travel to another place and makes you feel the characters’ experiences and emotions. And I felt like I got that with this book. I felt like I was part of the concerts and it made me feel like I traveled with country singers and saw their lives on a personal level. I have to say that some things were realistic, others not so much, but I was very happy with the end result. All the characters were very likeable and I loved how both groups hung out together and got to know each other. I also really liked the banter between the singers and all the bickering! That made the story even more interesting to me – also, I love enemies-to-lovers stories, so it was a no-brainer for why I liked the romance.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. It has the right amount of depth and fun. It’s definitely not a “hollow” book. I wish more people read this because I feel like it’s underrated! If you like country music and YA books, you are in for a treat.

xoxo, Neide