Review | Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

“We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.” 4/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: woods, lottery tickets, white plastic bags, voices, sleeping bags, weird looking clouds, oreos, dead bodies, black line, sewed eyes, dyslexia, abandoned fridges, deers, treehouses, hospital beds and imaginary friends.

I can’t believe I finally finished this book. I started reading it in August and here I am finishing it on Christmas Eve – which actually was a cool coincidence considering what happens in the book. I took a lot of time reading this book because I was constantly intimidated by it. It’s not a difficult book to go through, but every time I looked at this huge book with almost 900 pages (portuguese edition) I had no desire to pick it up. Which was unfair to the book, because I actually enjoyed it.

I would describe this book as horror, but not the aggressive kind. Don’t get me wrong, I got chills reading it and I felt uncomfortable most of the time, but it’s not an in-your-face kind of horror. It’s more of a disturbing kind, like Stephen King’s horror books.

The story was good. Like I said, I was creeped out most of the time because of the way the story kept building up. There is almost nothing comforting about this story other than the relationship between Christopher and his mother. You just feel uncomfortable most of the time – but in a good way! What makes this book so great to me is the combination of writing, characters and overall plot. Stephen Chbowsy is a natural when it comes to storytelling and it shows in this book. He writes in a very compelling way, making you want to know more and uncover the truth. And that plot twist? Oh lord, I did not see that coming.

The characters were amazing. I really liked how we have our main characters – Christopher and his mom – but also a huge set of secondary characters with their own personal stories. In the beginning I was a little lost because there are so many extra characters involved in the story, but after a while you get used to it. You get to know each character’s personal problems and how they fit into the story, so you go down an extra layer when it comes to depth. I don’t think I ever read something like this, but I liked it a lot.

The writing was one of my favorite things about this book. This is Stephen Chbosky’s second book after The Perks of Being a Wallflower, published with a 20 year old gap between books and I was curious to see how he would write horror. I could see some similarities in writing between books, but of course, the stories are very different. This story is very well developed and the pacing was really good until it slowed down a bit towards the end. If you feel intimidated by gigant books, don’t worry about this one because it has small chapters. This helped me a lot!

And can I say this book reminded me a lot of Stranger Things? A mom concerned about her kid, a xerif doing his best to uncover what’s going on, a group of nerdy friends hanging out together, a creepy setting in a small town… there were so many elements that reminded me of the tv show!

What a ride! It was an interesting book to say the least.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young

“You weren’t made for this world, Fable.” 4/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: pyre, coppers, daggers, old scars, fake gems, shadow ships, traders, thieves and maps.

This was such a cool story! I usually like to read pirate books, and this is a great one. One of my favorite things about this book is how well this world is put together. It’s obvious the author put in a lot of work to make this story seem realistic – you know, for a fiction story. The way the characters talked and acted, the terms used, the scenery… Everything contributed to create a rich story. This is the kind of book where you don’t know who to trust. You get into Fable’s shoes and you just hope for the best! I will say there were some points the story felt a bit slow paced, but not to the point that would bother me. Still, there is a lot of adventure, danger and secrets to unfold, so if you like pirate stories you are in for a treat!

Fable was a great and interesting main character. Her surviving skills and heart made her very likeable to me. She was a woman with a goal, and she did everything she could to achieve it. But to be honest I liked all characters, especially the ship crew. It was really cool to see their relationship blossom and to see how they become friends after that rocky start.

If you are interested in this book for the romance aspect, you need to know that it takes a while to get there. It’s not a romantic story from the beginning. It develops after a while, but it still takes some time to get there. But I honestly thought it was worth the wait, and now I’m very curious to know what will happen in the next book.

And I have to talk about this… how beautiful is this cover! This cover is gorgeous and if you never saw the cover for the second book, you should see them side to side, because they create this beautiful image of Fable. I liked this a lot!

Overall I liked the story and I was entertained. I’m excited for the second book to come out next year!

xoxo, Neide

Review | Vox by Christina Dalcher

VOX: One of the most talked about dystopian fiction books and Sunday Times  best sellers: Amazon.es: Dalcher, Christina: Libros en idiomas extranjeros

“Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. That’s what they say, right?” 1.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: lab rats, double standards, privileges, electric “bracelets” and silence.

*Some spoilers ahead, proceed with caution!*

Vox disappointed me. When I first read the premise of the book I got really excited to get it and read it. A world where women are controlled to only say 100 words per day? I love dystopian books and this sounded amazing. And it was… in the beginning.

The story starts off nicely. They build the world and tell that women stopped having access to books, passports, information and other small, normal things. But after about a third of the book, the story changes direction abruptly and to me it felt like it was no longer about the main premise. The main idea was lost in things that weren’t even relevant to the story. 

The characters were so flat, plain and unlikeable that I didn’t care for anyone. The first third of the book made me hate Jean’s husband and older son – especially her older son. But I even disliked Jean. I tried to relate to her as a woman and a scientist (I’m not one anymore though), but I just couldn’t find a single relatable thing about her. She kept saying she cared about her kids, but she was selfish enough to get back to that italian (plain) guy just because he was good to her. I will say I liked how her relationship with her daughter was portrayed, but was she really willing to leave her other kids behind just because they were boys? Really? I will say I liked the fact that she had a daughter and sons because it was a good way to show the readers the contrast between gender privileges.

There are so many moments I thought “what the hell is going on”. This story could be realistic, but they seriously worked and developed a drug in weeks? Really? And that ending with her husband…? Oh my God. I had no words for so many reasons. And the way the book ends for Jean? I don’t want to get in too much detail, but this was the nail in the coffin for me. For a book that talks about woman power, the ending was just ridiculous.

I could be here all day to point out all the problems I had with this book, but in a nutshell: the plot is terrible, there is no backstory or explanation, the characters are plain and unlikeable and there are too many unbelievable coincidences and unnecessary stereotypes.

For a book I was so excited to read, I was bored the entire time. I’m honestly surprised I finished this book, but I just kept going because I hoped it would get better. I’m just disappointed because the concept had so much potential but the execution and plot completely ruined the book for me. Better books will come though!

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

“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.

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, Neide

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.

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, 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!

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, Neide

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.

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, Neide

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

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