Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng || Book Review

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Release date: June 26, 2014

Publisher: Penguin Press

Genre: Fiction/Mystery

Premise: So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

Thoughts + Feelings: I needed to take some time to compile my thoughts about Everything I Never Told You. Earlier this year I read Little Fires Everywhere, so I was going into this work of art with very high expectations. My expectations were met because Celeste Ng is a remarkable writer.

While reading this book, I had an overarching, burning feeling that growing up I felt like I was a lot like Lydia Lee – except that I put all of the pressure on myself, not necessarily my mother or father putting the pressure on me. It was still one of those stories that resonated deeply with me, as it seems it has resonated deeply with many readers.

Everything I Never Told You raises the question about how children handle parental pressure.

For me one of the most moving quotations from the book was: “That attention came with expectations that—like snow—drifted and settled and crushed you with their weight.” As a young adult, I know exactly how that feels. You/parents/supervisors pile on the attention and expectations of what you are to accomplish in your life or on a given day and sometimes the weight on your chest makes it hard to breathe.

With the parental pressure growing, we see the brother-sister relationship grow between Nath and Lydia. However, from a familial perspective, you can see the challenges of their relationship. All of the attention is given to Lydia because she is the favorite child; the child with the most potential. Nath and Hannah are the two other siblings who are almost always forgotten about. You can see that while they have each others back and care about one another, Nath has a sense of animosity towards Lydia because their parents seem to care about her more.

“Everything that she had wanted for Lydia, which Lydia had never wanted but had embraced anyway.”

As a daughter, Lydia wanted to become everything her parents dreamed of; She read the books and took the classes. She lost her friendships because she had to focus on her parents dreams and put her own off to the side.

Everything I Never Told You teaches us about sexism and racism without it being the entire story.

The plot flips back and forth between present day and the earlier lives of Mr. and Mrs. Lee. You can feel the angst that both of her parents felt growing up through their childhood stories and the expectations that their parents placed on them. Marilyn Lee abhorred her mother and the life she wanted for her. As a home economics teacher, Marilyn’s mother had a certain idea of what a woman should do with her life — but Marilyn wanted to be a doctor. In the 1970s, there were not a lot of female physicians so she faced oppression in the classrooms surrounded by men. James Lee became a private school student due to his parents working as kitchen staff and custodial members. He went on to study American culture, but due to his Asian identity he was never granted the same opportunities as his co-workers. These stressors from their lives translated down into the expectations they set forth in their daughter.

The way this novel was written was not just so that we, as readers, could visualize the story. It was written in a way so that we could feel the way the characters were feeling. Celeste Ng developed a set of characters with a deep, intricate background. I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a novel where you feel the pain and grief of a family, as much as I did with the Lee family.

I would highly recommend Everything I Never Told You to all readers. It was a magnificent read that will make you question the pressure that you place on yourself. This was one of my favorite books of 2018.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It’s Monday. What are you reading? #21

The weather is cool. I’ve carved some pumpkins and made some pie. I go out of town. Friends come into town. I go to the gym. I make to-do lists a mile long that never get completed. I love fall, but I honestly feel like its the busiest time of the year for me. It’s Monday and I already SO tired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? which is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

What I Read Last Week


I had been reading Children of Blood and Bone last week, but then it was due at the library and I wasn’t far enough into it to want to take the fine. And then I got wrapped up in baking pumpkin pies, cleaning my house and decorating for fall. Reading just didn’t happen for me last week — which is OKAY. I did a lot of other things last week, so I feel okay and only a little awkward that this happened.

One important note: While I am moving Children of Blood and Bone to my DNF list right now, I am hoping to get it back from the library and finish it! I was enjoying the book, but it was just SO LONG and I ran out of time.

What I’m Reading This Week

I feel like I have been so unbelievably busy that I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read for the last couple weeks. I cracked this one open earlier and it was a fresh breathe of air to my mind.

the library book


Goodreads Challenge: 50/52 books completed (90%)

Around the Year in 52 Books: 36/52 books completed (69%)

A-Z: 15/26 books completed (57.7%)

Have you ever DNF’d a book and then gone back to it several months later?

TBR Tackle Thursday #2

We are back with another week of tackling the TBR! Last week, I only looked at 10 books. I ended up deleting three and moving one to my educational reads pile. A majority of the books stayed on my TBR because I purchased them, so I need to read them. This seems to be a theme through my next little pile of books too.

For those of you who haven’t done this before but need to get rid of some books from your ever-growing TBR list, here’s what to do:

  1. Go to that list of yours wherever it’s at.
  2. Go to the OLDEST stuff listed.
  3. Pick a chunk (5,10,15, 25, however many you want to go through) of books.
  4. Read the synopsis, and decide if you’re going to keep it on that list or if it’s one of those books that sounded good at the time.
  5. Post your list and your verdicts!

Currently, I have 242 books on my TBR list.

act of warAct of War by Brad Thor

Synopsis: After a CIA agent mysteriously dies overseas, his top asset surfaces with a startling and terrifying claim. There’s just one problem— no one knows if she can be trusted. But when six exchange students go missing, two airplane passengers trade places, and one political-asylum seeker is arrested, a deadly chain of events is set in motion.

With the United States facing an imminent and devastating attack, America’s new president must turn to covert counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath to help carry out two of the most dangerous operations in the country’s history. Code-named “Gold Dust” and “Blackbird,” they are shrouded in absolute secrecy as either of them, if discovered, will constitute an act of war.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.

Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz

Synopsis: In a sinister encounter with a rogue truck driver tricked up like a rhinestone cowboy, Odd has a disturbing vision of a shocking multiple homicide that has not yet been committed. Across California, into Nevada, and back again, Odd embarks on a riveting road chase to prevent the tragedy.

Along the way, he meets–and charms–a collection of eccentrics who become his allies in a terrifying battle against a sociopath of singular boldness and cleverness–and a shadowy network of mysterious, like-minded murderers whose chilling resources seem almost supernatural.

Verdict: Delete it and donate it. I didn’t realize how late in the series it is and I don’t have the other books and my TBR is too long already.

Damn FewDamn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior by Rorke Denver

Synopsis: From leadership expert, former Navy SEAL, “American Grit” feature player, and author of Worth Dying For: A Navy SEAL’s Call to a Nation, Rorke Denver, the bestselling account of how he helped create the U.S. Navy SEALS of today. Rorke Denver trains the men who become Navy SEALs–the most creative problem solvers on the modern battlefield, ideal warriors for the kinds of wars America is fighting now. With his years of action-packed mission experience and a top training role, Lieutenant Commander Denver understands exactly how tomorrow’s soldiers are recruited, sculpted, motivated, and deployed.

Now, Denver takes you inside his personal story and the fascinating, demanding SEAL training program he now oversees. He recounts his experience evolving from a young SEAL hopeful pushing his way through Hell Week, into a warrior engaging in dangerous stealth missions across the globe, and finally into a lieutenant commander directing the indoctrination, requalification programs, and the “Hero or Zero” missions his SEALs undertake.

From his own SEAL training and missions overseas, Denver details how the SEALs’ creative operations became front and center in America’s War on Terror-and how they are altering warfare everywhere. In fourteen years as a SEAL officer, Rorke Denver tangled with drug lords in Latin America, stood up to violent mobs in Liberia, and battled terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Leading 200 commando missions, he earned the Bronze Star with V for valor. He has also served as flag aide to the admiral in charge and spent the past four years as executive officer of the Navy Special Warfare Center’s Advanced Training Command in Coronado, California, directing all phases of the basic and advanced training that prepare men for war in SEAL teams. He recently starred in the film Act of Valor. He is married and has two daughters.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.

IdenticalIdentical by Scott Turow

Synopsis: IDENTICAL, based loosely on the myth of Castor and Pollux, is the story of identical twins Paul and Cass Giannis and the complex relationships between their family and their former neighbors, the Kronons. The novel focuses principally on events in 2008, when Paul is a candidate for Mayor of Kindle County, and Cass is released from the penitentiary, 25 years after pleading guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, Aphrodite Kronon. The plot centers on the re-investigation of Aphrodite’s murder, carried out together by Evon Miller, an ex-FBI agent who is the head of security for the Kronon family business ZP, and private investigator Tim Brodie, 81, a former homicide detective. The complex web of murder, sex, and betrayal-as only Scott Turow could weave-dramatically unfolds, and the chilling truth is revealed: people will believe what they want to believe.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Synopsis: The Gargoyle: the mesmerizing story of one man’s descent into personal hell and his quest for salvation.

On a dark road in the middle of the night, a car plunges into a ravine. The driver survives the crash, but his injuries confine him to a hospital burn unit. There the mysterious Marianne Engel, a sculptress of grotesques, enters his life. She insists they were lovers in medieval Germany, when he was a mercenary and she was a scribe in the monastery of Engelthal. As she spins the story of their past lives together, the man’s disbelief falters; soon, even the impossible can no longer be dismissed.

Verdict: Delete it and donate it.

Israel in the Middle East: Documents and Readings on Society, Politics, and Foreign Relations, Pre-1948 to the Present by Itmar Rabinovich

Synopsis: This timely anthology, completely revised and updated from the original edition in 1984, provides convenient access to the most significant documents of the Zionist movement since 1882 and of Israel’s domestic and foreign policy issues between 1948 and 2006.

Comprised largely of primary sources from Israeli, Arab, and American records, documents encompass not only political and diplomatic history but economic, cultural, legal and social aspects of the region as well. The second edition also addresses areas not covered by the 1984 volume: a new chapter on the pre-state period, additional documents that reflect the Palestinian perspective, and the voices of women. Divided into seven chronological sections, documents are introduced by an overview of the entire era. They are annotated and preceded by explanatory headnotes.

Verdict: Educational Reads

insomniaInsomnia by Stephen King

Synopsis: Since his wife died, Ralph Roberts has been having trouble sleeping. Each night he wakes up a bit earlier, until he’s barely sleeping at all. During his late night walks, he observes some strange things going on in Derry, Maine. He sees colored ribbons streaming from people’s heads, two strange little men wandering around town after dark, and more. He begins to suspect that these visions are something more than hallucinations brought on by lack of sleep.

There’s a definite mean streak running through this small New England city; underneath its ordinary surface awesome and terrifying forces are at work. The dying has been going on in Derry for a long, long time. Now Ralph is part of it…and lack of sleep is the least of his worries.

Returning to the same Maine town where It took place, a town that has haunted Stephen King for decades, Insomnia blends King’s trademark bone-chilling realism with supernatural terror to create yet another masterpiece of suspense.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.

His Dark Materials (#1-3) by Philip Pullman

Synopsis: His Dark Materials is an epic trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. It follows the coming of age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes.

Verdict: Delete it and donate it. I bought the set for a Religion and Fantasy class I took FOUR years ago and I still haven’t cracked these books open.

Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares by Sherry Stanfa-Stanley

Synopsis: Fighting midlife inertia, Sherry Stanfa-Stanley stares down fear through The 52/52 Project: a year of weekly new experiences designed to push her far outside her comfort zone. Her escapades range from visiting a nude beach with her seventy-five-year-old mother in tow to going on a raid with a vice squad and SWAT team to crashing a wedding (where she accidentally catches the bouquet). While finding her courage in the most unlikely of circumstances, Sherry ultimately finds herself.

For midlifers, fatigued parents, and anyone who may be discontent with their life and looking to shake things up, try new things, or just escape, Finding My Badass Self is proof it’s never too late to reinvent yourself–and that the best bucket list of all may be an unbucket list.

Verdict: Delete it.

Dots & Dashes by Jehanne Dubrow

Synopsis: Moving between the languages of love and war, Jehanne Dubrow’s latest book offers valuable testimony to the experiences of military wives. Frequently employing rhyme, meter, and traditional forms, these poems examine what it means to be both a military spouse and an academic, straddling two communities that speak in very different and often conflicting terms.

As in the poet’s earlier collection, Stateside, the poems in Dots & Dashes are explicitly feminist, exploring the experiences of women whose husbands are deployed. But, while Stateside looked to masculine stories of war, Dots & Dashes incorporates the views and voices of female poets who have written about combat. Looking to Sappho and Emily Dickinson, the poet considers how the act of writing allows her autonomy and agency rarely granted to military spouses, even in the twenty-first century. Dubrow catalogs the domestic life of a military spouse, illustrating what it is like to live in a tightly constructed world of rules and regulations, ceremony and tradition, where “every sacrifice already / knows its place.”

Navigating the rough seas of marriage alongside questions about how civilians and those in the military can learn to communicate with one another, Dubrow argues for compassion and empathy on both sides. In this timely collection, Dubrow offers the hope that if we can break apart our preconceptions and stereotypes, we can find what connects all of us.

Verdict: Delete it.

draculaDracula by Bram Stoker

Synopsis: The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and a woman led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.





Out of the books I looked at today:

  • Keeping: 5
  • Educational Reads: 1
  • Deleted: 7

Now I am down to 234 books on my TBR list.

Here is last week’s TBR Tackle Thursday!

Let’s Chat!

Did I get delete any books that you’ve read before and loved? Did I keep any that you’ve read and didn’t like?

Final Notice by Van Fleisher|| Book Review

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I received this book for free from onlinebookclub.org in exchange for an honest review.

Release date: October 2, 2017

Publisher: BookBaby

Genre: Fiction/Thriller

Premise: What Would You Do If You Knew – For Certain – That You Had 10 Days To Live?

Some would get their legal affairs in order. Others would contact family, friends, lovers, ex-lovers. Some might take a trip or make an exceptional donation. Still others might clean the house and do the laundry. And some…might kill.

Thoughts + Feelings: 

I struggled to finish Final Notice: A Political Thriller.I honestly did not want to finish this novel – The only reason I did was because I received so many reminder emails that this book was purchased for me in exchange for a review. I feel bad reviewing this book because I almost never give one star reviews. That’s how you know I really did not like this book.

When searching for a new book to read, I was intrigued by the tag line and plot summary. Having a final notice is an interesting concept that caught my eye and I was excited to see where Fleischer would take me with the story. However, what I found was just a poorly written, vague, political commentary with a fictional story behind it.

Fleischer said that he was writing a commentary on today’s society, but this was just too much. By the end, it was a free for all of dying people and gun-toting seniors who were happy to shoot anyone who hurt their feelings.

To summarize the overarching theme of the book: There is a company called VitalTech that has developed a new version of the sports watch. This new watch is similar to a FitBit, Garmin or Apple Watch as it is able to track movement and general health of the wearer. It’s able to connect to a smart phone application for easy interpretation and monitoring. The big difference… the VT2 has the ability to check vital signs like pulse, blood pressure and oxygen levels in the blood to issue out what is called a ‘Final Notice.’ This final notice can be set to be issued 10, 20 or 30 days in advance. In the first testing group, the VT2 tells the users when they have one week left to live which allows them to alert their family, see their doctor and straighten up their end of life documents.

The one positive aspect that I enjoyed in Final Notice is that it leads you to ask the question: “What would you do if you knew you only had a week to live?” This is a question that is asked a lot. It’s asked by healthy and sick individuals in today’s society as a way to reflect on their lives. The book Final Notice by Van Fleisher shows us how several different people answer that exact question and many of them were rather surprising.

I felt as if there were too many characters introduced throughout the novel without following up with any of them. Most of them were superfluous to the story. One of the biggest let downs was the FBI agent. You would think that Special Agent Zoe would add suspense or tension to the plot, but she just rolled with the punches and didn’t add anything to the story.

Another downfall of Final Notice was that the author often took readers out of the story by adding in little notes to the author throughout the text. He may have thought that this was a cute addition, but in reality, it was a complete distraction and felt inappropriate.

With all of this in mind, I was disappointed in Final Notice: A Political Thriller. While politics is in the title, there was very little thrill to the novel and it seems like it could’ve been a stronger novel if it would’ve taken a bigger look at how the different individuals handled the emotions of finding out that they only had 10 days to live and why they chose to pick up a gun instead of doing something good.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. It was all over the place and did not satisfy the political thriller feeling that I was looking for.

Rating: ⭐

It’s Monday. What are you reading? #20

I’m currently sitting in the Orlando airport headed home from a nice weekend celebrating an 80th birthday and a losing football game. I’m currently “reading” Children of Blood and Bone, but honestly I’m 45 pages into it and it is so big. It’s due back at the library on Friday and I just don’t think I’m going to be able to finish it. I’m going to try and read as much as I can by Friday to determine whether or not it’s worth the library fine.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? which is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

What I Read Last Week

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What I’m Reading This Week


Goodreads Challenge: 50/52 books completed (96%)

Around the Year in 52 Books: 36/52 books completed (69%)

A-Z: 15/26 books completed (57.7%)

Let’s chat!

When you loan books from the library and you are halfway done when the due date arrives and is not available for renewal, what do you do? Do you take the fine or do you return without finishing it?

Have a great week!

TBR Tackle Thursday #1

When I first started blogging, I saw a tag titled “Down the TBR Hole.” This was a great concept that helped me to start clearing out my TBR on Goodreads because it was a little bit out of control. I did the tag about five times, but then it fell by the wayside. Last week while scrolling through my email, I received an email from WordPress about a new post by bookschiefmanaged titled “TBR Tackle Thursday” and I thought what a great idea. Lets bring back tackling this endless TBR pile to clear it up before the New Year begins.

For those of you who haven’t done this before but need to get rid of some books from your ever-growing TBR list, here’s what to do:

  1. Go to that list of yours wherever it’s at.
  2. Go to the OLDEST stuff listed.
  3. Pick a chunk (5,10,15, 25, however many you want to go through) of books.
  4. Read the synopsis, and decide if you’re going to keep it on that list or if it’s one of those books that sounded good at the time.
  5. Post your list and your verdicts!

Here are the links to my previous Down the TBR Hole posts:

Instead of starting at the beginning again, I am going to start where I ended with Down the TBR Hole #5. Once I’ve circled through the first time, chances are I will start with the original books added to my TBR list. I also used to have this someday maybe bookshelf – but in this go round, I am not adding books to this shelf. We’re sticking with To Be Read, Educational Reads or getting rid of it.

Currently, I have 250 books on my TBR list.

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 9.12.20 PMBone Machine by Martyn Waites

Synopsis: The body is discovered in an abandoned burial ground: a young woman, blond, ritualistically mutilated, apparently. Her eyes and mouth have been crudely sewn shut.

The police come up with a suspect quick enough: the victim’s boyfriend, Michael Nell, who has a notoriously uncontrollable temper as well as an incriminating record of violence against women. His lawyer, however, is not convinced that Nell is a killer.

All Joe Donovan has to do is prove the truth of Michael Nell’s alibi. The job proves not to be routine, as Donovan’s inquiries lead him and his crack team of operatives deep into Newcastle’s murky underworld of child-trafficking and prostitution. When the second body shows up, the former investigative journalist knows he’s up against more than local gangsters.

Still bearing the scars of his own crushing history since the disappearance of his six-year-old son three years before, Donovan now finds himself enmeshed in the dark biography of an elusive, deranged serial killer whom he can profile but cannot identify. The killer meanwhile obliges the authorities with maddeningly cryptic clues to his twisted, deadly intents, but all the while time for the next young, unsuspecting victim is fast running out.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.

Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen

Synopsis: Ebola, SARS, Hendra, AIDS, and countless other deadly viruses all have one thing in common: the bugs that transmit these diseases all originate in wild animals and pass to humans by a process called spillover. In this gripping account, David Quammen takes the reader along on this astonishing quest to learn how, where from, and why these diseases emerge and asks the terrifying question: What might the next big one be?

Verdict: Educational Reads.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Synopsis: Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too.

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Verdict: Delete.

Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart

Synopsis: I have something for you. When Quinn Cruz receives that cryptic text message from her older sister Nora, she doesn’t think much of it. They haven’t seen each other in nearly a year and thanks to Nora’s fierce aloofness, their relationship consists mostly of infrequent phone calls and an occasional email or text. But when a haunted Nora shows up at the lake near Quinn’s house just hours later, a chain reaction is set into motion that will change both of their lives forever.

Nora’s “something” is more shocking than Quinn could have ever imagined: a little girl, cowering, wide-eyed, and tight-lipped. Nora hands her over to Quinn with instructions to keep her safe, and not to utter a word about the child to anyone, especially not their buttoned-up mother who seems determined to pretend everything is perfect. But before Quinn can ask even one of the million questions swirling around her head, Nora disappears, and Quinn finds herself the unlikely caretaker of a girl introduced simply as Lucy.

While Quinn struggles to honor her sister’s desperate request and care for the lost, scared Lucy, she fears that Nora may have gotten involved in something way over her head—something that will threaten them all. But Quinn’s worries are nothing compared to the firestorm that Nora is facing. It’s a matter of life and death, of family and freedom, and ultimately, about the lengths a woman will go to protect the ones she loves.

Verdict: Delete.

Shooting Ghosts: A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back From War by Finbarr O’Reilly

Synopsis: War tears people apart, but it can also bring them together. Through the unpredictability of war and its aftermath, a decorated Marine sergeant and a world-trotting war photographer became friends, their bond forged as they patrolled together through the dusty alleyways of Helmand province and camped side by side in the desert. It deepened after Sergeant T. J. Brennan was injured during a Taliban ambush, and both returned home. Brennan began to suffer from the effects of his injury and from the fallout of his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. But war correspondents experience similar rates of posttraumatic stress as combat veterans. The causes can be different, but guilt plays a prominent role in both. For Brennan, it s the things he s done, or didn t do, that haunt him. Finbarr O Reilly s conscience is nagged by the task of photographing people at their most vulnerable while being able to do little to help, and his survival guilt as colleagues die on the job. Their friendship offered them both a shot at redemption.

As we enter the fifteenth year of continuous war, it is increasingly urgent not just to document the experiences of the battlefield but also to probe the reverberations that last long after combatants and civilians have returned home, and to understand the many faces trauma takes. Shooting Ghosts looks at the horrors of war directly, but then turns to a journey that draws on our growing understanding of what recovery takes. Their story, told in alternating first-person narratives, is about the things they saw and did, the ways they have been affected, and how they have navigated the psychological aftershocks of war and wrestled with reforming their own identities and moral centers. While war never really ends for those who’ve lived through it, this book charts the ways two survivors have found to calm the ghosts and reclaim a measure of peace.

Verdict: Delete.

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 9.46.29 PMPandemic by A.G. Riddle

Synopsis: A hundred miles north of Alaska, an American Coast Guard vessel discovers a sunken submarine at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. It has no national identification and doesn’t match the records of any known vessel. Deep within, researchers find evidence of a scientific experiment that will alter our very understanding of the human race.

In Atlanta, Dr. Peyton Shaw is awakened by the phone call she has dreaded for years. As the CDC’s leading epidemiologist, she’s among the first responders to outbreaks around the world. It’s a lonely and dangerous job, but it’s her life—and she’s good at it. This time, she may have met her match.

In Kenya, an Ebola-like pathogen has infected two Americans. One lies at death’s door. With the clock ticking, Peyton assembles her team and joins personnel from the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the WHO. What they find in the remote village is beyond their worst fears. As she traces the origin of the pathogen, Peyton begins to believe that there is more to this outbreak—that it may be merely the opening act in a conspiracy with far reaching consequences.

In Berlin, Desmond Hughes awakens in a hotel room with no memory of how he got there or who he is. On the floor, he finds a dead security guard from an international pharmaceutical company. His only clue leads him to Peyton Shaw—a woman who seems to know him, but refuses to tell him how. With the police searching the city for him, Desmond desperately tries to piece together what happened to him. To his shock and horror, he learns that he may be involved in causing the outbreak—and could hold the only key to stopping it.

As the pathogen spreads around the world, Peyton and Desmond race to unravel the conspiracy behind the pandemic—and uncover secrets some want to keep buried.

Verdict: Keep it.

things fall apart.pngThings Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Synopsis: THINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.

The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 9.47.47 PMOrange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Synopsis: With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before.

But that past has caught up with her.

Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424 — one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system.

From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance.

Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 9.48.56 PMDivergent by Veronica Roth

Synopsis: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 9.50.05 PMThe Kill Room by Jeffery Deaver

Synopsis: It was a “million-dollar bullet,” a sniper shot delivered from over a mile away. Its victim was no ordinary mark: he was a United States citizen, targeted by the United States government, and assassinated in the Bahamas. The nation’s most renowned investigator and forensics expert, Lincoln Rhyme, is drafted to investigate. While his partner, Amelia Sachs, traces the victim’s steps in Manhattan, Rhyme leaves the city to pursue the sniper himself. As details of the case start to emerge, the pair discovers that not all is what it seems. When a deadly, knife-wielding assassin begins systematically eliminating all evidence–including the witnesses–Lincoln’s investigation turns into a chilling battle of wits against a cold-blooded killer.

Verdict: Keep it because I own it.

Out of the books I looked at today:

  • Keeping: 6
  • Educational Reads: 1
  • Deleted: 3
  • Removed Duplicates: 3 (whoops)

Now I am down to 242 books on my TBR list.

Let’s Chat!

Did I get delete any books that you’ve read before and loved? Did I keep any that you’ve read and didn’t like?

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han || Book Review

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Release date: April 15, 2014

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books

Genre: Fiction/Young Adult

Premise: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Thoughts + Feelings: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. I think this book struck a piece deep in my heart because I remember the feeling of a boy finding out that I liked him. I remember how embarrassing was it was to show up at school and have to talk to him. If I could use one word to describe this book it would be: cute. I knew when I picked it up from the library that I wasn’t going to be blown away from the literary magnificence of it. I added it to my holds list because I thought the Netflix adaptation was adorable – what else was I to expect from the book?

Truth be told, I enjoyed the book more than the movie. While they were each different and special in their own way, I liked the way that Lara Jean developed in the novel more. Without giving spoilers away about them both – what I liked about the movie was how it was tied together. You know how the letters get out from the beginning; you see how Lara Jean, Kitty and Margot interact with each other in real life. I felt that in the novel, the Song sisters were not as close as they were portrayed in the movie. Maybe it’s just a difference in seeing versus visualizing.

I liked this book. It’s your average romantic young adult book. It felt like putting on warm pajamas when they come straight from the dryer. It was natural and relaxing to read. I’m going to read the next two books in the series because I want the same warm, fuzzy feelings.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Library of Trinity College || Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic: Bookstores or Libraries I’ve Always Wanted to Visit

I am going to do my own little twist on the topic. My post today is all about the Library of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. I’ve seen the library pop up on numerous lists today! I had the pleasure of visiting Dublin back in April 2018, so obviously I took a trip to visit the library.

The Library’s history dates back to the establishment of Trinity College in 1592 and it is the largest library in Ireland. You can stand in line to buy timed tickets to enter the library and see the Book of Kells, or you can purchase your tickets via the interwebs before you get there.

The Book of Kells is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces in both Irish art and early Christian art. It contains the four Gospels of the New Testament. I went to the Library of Trinity College without having any clue as to what to expect — and I didn’t even know what the Book of Kells was! I think the best way to describe it is that the pages are made of a special material (I don’t know exactly what it is), but it allows for the words to be decorated upon and illustrated. From what I remember, there are more drawings/decorations in the book than there are words!

The thing that is absolutely bonkers is that they only show one or two pages of the Book of Kells at a time. That means each time you go back and visit, it is likely that a different page is out for show.


After visiting the Book of Kells exhibit, you walk through the rest of the “library.” We were not permitted to go look/touch any of the other books in this part of the library… I have a feeling that there is a way to go and see more (especially the parts that the current Trinity College students use!) but for the short amount of time we were at Trinity College, we unfortunately were kept behind a line.

Looking from afar at the bookshelves was magnificent though. You just kind of get the feeling that you are in an important place. It smelled like old books – and I loved it so much.


Lets Chat!

  • Have you been to any of the libraries or bookstores that are filling everyone’s lists this week?

I’ve also been to Shakespeare & Company in Paris, France and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.!

It’s Monday. What are you reading? #19

It is finally fall in the DMV. This weekend I packed up all of my summer clothes and pulled out my sweaters. Last week I was able to finish two books. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was very cute and I wouldn’t recommend Final Notice to anyone. I’ve also been working on a plan to be more consistent with my posting – I’m hoping to roll out my plan in the next few weeks and leading into 2019.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

What I Read Last Week

What I’m Reading This Week


Goodreads Challenge: 49/52 books completed (94%)
Around the Year in 52 Books: 34/52 books completed (65%)
A-Z: 15/26 books completed (57.7%)

Posts from Last Week:


Hope you have a wonderful week!!

Friends of the Library Book Sale || Arlington County

I found a place that I would like to deem a little piece of heaven on Earth. Last night the semi-annual Friends of the Library Book Sale began for the Arlington County Public Library system. I love the library and all of the opportunities that it offers for free to residents of the area. Need a place to use a computer in quiet? Go to the library. Want the newest release? Add your name to the list and pick it up at the library. Want to learn a new language or teach a class? Go to the library, etc. It provides a safe space for kids, adults, the elderly and everyone in between.

Upon arriving at the library last night, I joined the Friends of the Library so that I could have early access to the book sale. I was/am amazed by the organization of the entire event because there were so many people and so many books. I looked around and thought ‘This is what heaven looks like.’

I went in with the intention to only search for the six Jodi Picoult books that I am missing and To Kill a Mockingbird. But we all know what happens when a book enthusiast walks into a massive book sale…. they go a little crazy! Now I only left with 11 books – There were people there with boxes upon boxes of books. There were metal moving carts to help these people take the books around the crowded area and out to their cars. I thought I had come prepared with my single canvas tote so that I could pick up the books that I wanted. MAN OH MAN, I was unprepared for this experience. But I loved it. I was amazed by the vast piles of books that covered the garage of the library. There were countless customers with their piles/boxes/carts of books and incredible volunteers restocking the sale as the books were picked up.


The sale goes from Thursday (yesterday) through Sunday — Chances are (and boyfriend willing) I will be heading back one more time to see what other goodies I can find. I wanted to expand my tastes in books more, but I pretty much stuck with books that I had seen before or authors that I had read before.

I purchased two books, Ghost Wars and The Unknown Darkness, by two authors I had never heard of before. But I have always been interested in crime/terrorism books, so when I saw them I knew I needed to add them to my tiny bag.

Books I Purchased:
  • State of Fear by Michael Crichton ($0.50)
  • Beneath the Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan ($4.00)
  • Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden by Steve Coll ($2.00)
  • The Unknown Darkness by Gregg O. McCrary ($2.00)
  • Kill Shot by Vince Flynn ($0.50)
  • Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn ($0.50)
  • Separation of Power by Vince Flynn ($0.50)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ($0.50)
  • The Pact by Jodi Picoult ($0.50) ** Honestly, I’ve read this one before… but I didn’t own it and it was only $0.50 so I couldn’t walk away without it.
  • Room by Emma Donoghue ($0.50)
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple ($0.50)

Total: $12

Have you read any of the books that I bought?

Have you ever been to a library sale like this one? What are your best sale shopping experiences?