Review | Whatever Works by Thalma Lobel

“The only time a disorganized office can be an advantage is when you are working on a problem that demands creativity.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: dim and intense lights, privacy, creativity, colours, emotions, nature, walks, music, negotiations, handshakes, open spaces, and messy desks.

By the time quarantine started I’d already started working remotely. At first I had a hard time defining a healthy daily routine for myself, creating a good working environment, and most importantly, defining the fine line between my personal life and work. And even though I’ve finally found my balance, I’m always willing to improve my working conditions and make the most out of it. So I decided to pick up this book because I thought it would be perfect for my current situation.

The book is divided into three sections: the first part is dedicated to how your environment affects you and how you can use it for your advantage; the second part focuses on how relationships and communication with your co-workers affect our work; and the third part how our personal habits have power over our performance and creativity.

First of all, I was very surprised to see that this is not a book only based on the author’s experience and opinions, but it’s mostly based on scientific studies. Each chapter focuses on a specific topic – such as light, open areas, music, temperature – and several studies and results that were made on that subject are presented to the reader. The cool part is that in the end of each chapter – and sometimes in the middle – there is a small note in a post-it format with a conclusion and tips on how we can apply what we learn after reading the chapter.

I applaud the author for all the research made and commitment to write such a complete guide on improving your work. I would say this is a book more focused on ways of increasing performance and have better communication and relationships with your co-workers. The second part unfortunately will only be useful when I return to the office, but I found the first and third parts very helpful for the times we are living in right now. 

I didn’t know what to expect at first, but I found some useful information that I will definitely apply in my daily life. If you are interested in learning how your environment affects your productivity and how to use small simple ways of increasing your productivity, this is the book for you!

A big thank you to NetGalley and BenBella Books for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review!

xoxo, Neide

Review | Vicious (Sinners of Saint #1) by L.J. Shen

“I used to think of you as a villain, but you’re not my villain. You’re your own villain.” 3.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: cherry blossoms, christmas leggins, sentimental shoeboxes, chewed pencils, funerals, cold mansions and diner shifts.

Well, this was something.

This story follows the relationship between Vicious – yes, that is his name – and Emilia. They met when they were in high school and they never got along. He was always very mean to her, but that didn’t stop her to love him. Still, she dated his best friend and tried to ignore him and his attitude the best she could. Now, after ten years, he is a powerful lawyer with his own company, and she works as a waitress in a local diner. They meet again in the diner where she works in New York, and with that, their feelings reappear stronger than ever.

I must admit, this reminded me a lot of Fifty Shades of Grey. Well, in this case there is no BDSM and the dominance aspect is not as strong, but the theme is very similar. Both books tell the story of a powerful, dark man infatuated by a humble, sweet woman. Overall the book was okay, I just wasn’t into the way he treated her most of the time. The male lead is very damaged and borderline abusive towards the girl. I’m actually into dark romances and enemies-to-lovers stories, but this didn’t do it for me. I get that he went through a lot in his past and everything, but it shouldn’t be an excuse for his behaviour. I feel like he was mean to her so many times, and always in very unnecessary ways. But hey, that’s just my opinion and what do I know? I’m glad he gets a little better in the end, but overall I didn’t like him.

If you are into dark romances, enemies to lovers stories and a-hole heroes, you will probably like this book.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: lab rats, memory loss, the song “Hey Ya” and very known brands such as Pepsodent, Febreeze and Starbucks.

Easily one of the best self development books I’ve ever read!

Habits play a huge role in our lives and sometimes we don’t even notice it. We create patterns that shape our lives and our reality every single day. Maybe you overeat, maybe you spend your money without thinking, maybe you smoke or maybe you bite your nails when you’re stressed. These behaviours are imprinted in our brains and sometimes it is very difficult to stop them.

If you are interested in stopping those behaviours in a successful way, it’s very important to understand how habits work and how your brain is wired. Fortunately for us, Charles Duhigg wrote this amazing book that tells us everything we need to know about habits in a very practical way.

The book is full of real life experiences of people who got through their bad habits. There is so much information on how we create habits, how our brains work and so much more. There are also some chapters about how organizations and companies – such as Starbucks, Febreeze and Pepsodent – use marketing to manipulate us on a daily basis through human patterns and consumer habits.

I learned so much with this book and I’m already applying the concepts in my life! This book is a must read for any self development lover and anyone who wants to have control over their lives. Highly recommend it!

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Guest List by Lucy Foley

“The rituals, the male bonding. When we get together there’s this kind of pack mentality. We get carried away.” 3.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: baby seals, secret notes, gold crowns, graveyards, mansions, deserted islands, death birds, wedding cake and seaweed.

People usually say that this book reminds them of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”, but I honestly don’t think it’s even similar. Sure, it’s also a murder mystery story and there is the stuck-in-an-island aspect, but other than that the stories have nothing in common.

One of my favorite things was definitely the set up and the atmosphere. The island has a very eerie feeling to it! The author did a great job creating a feeling of unease and heaviness in every page. Even the group of guys gave me really weird vibes with their conversations and behaviours.

I also liked that the story was complex and layered. In every chapter you discover something new that changed your view of what’s happening. I personally wasn’t the biggest fan of the pacing just because you only know who was murdered in the last chapters. There is a lot of build up and new information coming in, but I think it would be more interesting to know earlier who the victim was.

Overall it was a good book and I was entertained. If you like murder mystery books this is a good one to pick up.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Song of Achilles by Madelaine Miller

“He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.” – 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: curses, training, girl’s clothes, fake weddings, weapons, armors, prophecies and true love.

The story was so cute! There were so many things I love about these books. Not only I keep learning about greek mythology, but I also have a lot of fun. The story of The Song of Achilles was absolutely beautiful.

His story is told by Patrocles, known by being his right arm in life and in war. The story starts with him growing up with his parents and after accidentally killing a young boy, he is exiled to live with Achilles’ father on their island. There he meets some boys and Achilles. They become friends after a while, and he then starts to develop feelings for him. They become inseparable, even when Achilles is called to lead the greek to Troy and to get Helen back.

There are no words to describe how beautiful this book is. I don’t know a lot about mythology, so I was very interested to find out if the story was true to history. I did some digging after reading this book and I found a few interesting things. The first thing I wanted to know was if the romantic relationship was real, which was never confirmed but there are a few suspicions that it was a real thing. I also kept wondering if Philoctetes trained Achilles like it was mentioned in Hercules, but turns out Philoctetes was a hero himself – and a human by the way – who had nothing to do with his training. I would say overall, the story is very true to what happens in the Ilíad!

I really liked this and I highly recommend everyone to read this. Perfect for mythology lovers and the Iliad readers!

xoxo, Neide

Review | Michigan vs. the Boys by Carrie S. Allen

This is the separate-the-men-from-the-boys part. Lucky for me, Im all girl. 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: skates, Gatorade, statistics, punches, first dates, broom closets, bruises, earphones, college applications, hockey jerseys and ugly bullying.

I don’t think I have ever felt so frustrated and angry by reading a book.

I actually read this a few days ago, but I couldn’t write my thoughts right away, because of the way I felt. I needed some time to process the story and all the events to give my final thoughts… so here we go!

I knew I would love this book from the moment I read the synopsis. This book is about Michigan, a girl who plays on her school’s girl hockey team. She finds out the school is cutting her team’s budget, so everyone on the team goes their separate way by joining other teams – and even changing schools to keep practicing. But hockey is her passion and she can’t afford to practice somewhere else, so she decides to apply for the boy’s hockey team. Since she is crazy good, she gets a spot on the team but the boys are not happy with that and they start pranking her to make her quit. So the book is basically her trying to fight back the pranks and working hard to maintain her spot on the team!

What really surprised me was how serious the book is. I remember at some point I was starting to wonder why the boy’s “pranks” were escalating so much. To be completely honest, I was expecting a little cute twist mid-book where the boys would flip their behaviour and defend her in an external situation and then everyone would get along… well, that’s not what happens. Their behaviour starts to escalate and becomes more and more abusive by the day.

At some point it gets painful to watch, but I was rooting for Michigan the entire time. Sometimes it’s difficult for a girl to prove her value in a man’s world, so I completely understand what she was feeling and that’s why I felt so angry for her. I also appreciate the author keeping some of her hockey girlfriends near! There is something magical about girl power.

I really loved reading this not only because I really liked the story, but because it gave me such strong feelings – which does not happen often. Don’t be fooled, this is not your ordinary contemporary girl-beats-boys book. It’s a story about bullying and perseverance, even when the world seems against you. Definitely a book I will not forget.

I feel like this book is very underrated! I would highly recommend this book if you like feminist books with strong female leads. Just be aware of trigger warnings for abuse, bullying and violence throughout the book.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

“The ghosts, she had sobbed. The ghosts wouldn’t like it.” 3.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: poisonous plants, smart houses, dusty attics, stolen necklaces, disobedient kids, doll heads, baby monitors, job interviews, dead crows and turning keys.

I have weird mixed feelings.

Since The Turn of the Key is a book everyone under the sun is recommending, I finally decided to give it a go! When I finally picked it up a few days ago, I was fully immersed in the story, I was scared most of the time and – because of the power of any good mystery novel – I was intrigued to know how it was all going to end. There’s definitely something nerve racking about the house history, and the poison garden and the previous family. Even the Happy application was kind of creepy sometimes!

The problem is, when I finally reached the end I was disappointed. What made me so interested in the story is the fact that there was so much build-up and backstory and twists throughout the book… but then you get to the conclusion, and the explanation is week and rushed.

I try to keep my expectations low, but it’s difficult when everyone seems to love this book. I mean, I get it. I have to admit it was really entertaining and for the most part it’s still a good thriller/mystery. The final explanation was what ruined it for me!

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewel

“It all happened so slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly, the change to our parents, to our home, to our lives after they arrived. But that first night, when Birdie appeared on our front step with two large suitcases and a cat in a wicker box, we could never have guessed the impact she would have, the other people she would bring into our lives, that it would all end the way it did.
We thought she had just come to stay for the weekend.”
4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: black robes, fake passports, herbs, fancy apartments, fiddles, music videos, hippies and a rabbit’s foot.

My first Lisa Jewell book – and the first of many, I hope!

I actually enjoyed this a lot! I have to admit the storyline is a little weird and creepy, but it’s engaging and it will make you hooked from the start.

I’m going to try to keep this very vague because, of course, it’s a mystery novel. In this book, our main character Libby, who just turned 25 years old, inherits an old mansion from her biological family. She was adopted when she was only a few months old and she doesn’t know much about her biological family, but she then discovers through some newspaper articles that her biological parents died in a very weird way, inside of the house she’s inheriting. And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot!

The story occurs in two timelines, past and present, and there are three points of view from which we don’t know much about until the story develops and converges. The plot itself is very complex and overall well made, and the mystery is layered so you discover something new in each chapter, making it easy to keep the interest in the story. I would describe this as a lighter thriller, stronger on the mystery aspect.

I personally really liked the ending and how disturbing it was. I wouldn’t consider it an open-ending, but there isn’t a solid conclusion to the story. I will say it’s not an ambiguous ending in the sense that the story feels incomplete, so I didn’t have a problem with that.I liked this a lot! If you like thrillers/mysteries that involve dysfunctional, weird families, this is a good one to pick up.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

“Aren’t we all drawn to friends in the beginning by trifling things? True bonds develop afterward, when character is revealed.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: unique clothes, boxing matches, flowers, skinny dipping, picnics, red roses, cute dogs, daggers, hair dye, bandits, gloves and shadows.

Tricia Levenseller may become one of my favorite authors – I just need to read Warrior of the Wild first to confirm it!

I read The Daughter of the Pirate King duology last year and it became easily one of my favorite book series of all time. I decided I would pick up her books whenever I could, and I was not disappointed when I picked this!

There is something about her characters that grip me to the story. She writes the best, fierce female main characters, and that is only one of the motives for why I love her books so much. In this case, I loved Alessandra and how devious, unapologetic, strong and sure of herself she was. And her perfect match, Kallias, was also an amazing male lead and love interest. If you like slow burning romances with some contact here in there, this is a great one!

The setting for the story was also one of my favorite things about this book. I have a thing for dark books and strong romances, so this was a treat! The story is fantastic and complex, and there is a small mystery with a plot twist in the end.

One thing I struggled with in this book was the amount of fancy names. It was kind of difficult to keep track with who was who, especially because of the amount of side characters! But eventually I figured it out.

I would also say this is a subtle feminist book, which I wasn’t expecting and really enjoyed! Alessandra wants to be queen not only to rule and give orders, but also to give women the opportunity to have the same rights men have. 

This is marketed as young adult, but be aware that sex is mentioned frequently – not in a specific and detailed way, but be aware of that!The book is amazing and if you can, you should definitely pick this up. I would also highly recommend her duology The Daughter of the Pirate King. She is so underrated!

xoxo, Neide

Review | Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find the way back.” 3/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: monster cake, hashtags, swimming practice, Mean Girls, grilled cheese sandwiches, freckles, the Met steps and a Twitter war.

It was okay. The romance was okay, the characters were okay, the story was okay. For most of the things the story offers, I don’t have strong opinions:

  1. The romance was cute and cheesy, but I didn’t care much about it;
  2. The New York setting didn’t do much for me;
  3. The characters were likeable, but not very memorable and special in my opinion;
  4. I’m not the biggest fan of social media books, so… there’s also that.

I will say I liked how the story was developing and how complex it was – regarding the food and recipes – and stories like these make great books to read at the beach because of how light they are.

It’s still a cute romance, but I dare to say it is kind of an over-hyped book. I just didn’t connect and feel invested in it like I would like to be. Not a bad book, just okay.

xoxo, Neide