Something to Talk About

The rumors, in this case, were true: Celeste Ng’s second novel was every bit the banger that critics claimed it to be.

Little Fires Everywhere lit up every best-of 2017 list, it became a New York Times best seller, every book club was reading it, and rightfully so. Therefore, I was very much looking forward to diving right in, and apparently so was everyone else in Jersey City because I had to wait two months before it was ready at my library.

There’s a reason the hype exists. Ng’s words flow effortlessly while telling a complex story that we know all too well and that shamefully intrigues us. The one where rumors and gossip spread so fast, like a fire that can’t be put out. They can’t be tamed, and neither could Ng’s book. It didn’t ignite several small flames as its name suggests though; its greatness was one giant wildfire.

Little Fires Everywhere

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Where Would You Be?

I love books that challenge my opinions, what I think I know about the world and how I’d respond in certain situations (see The Patriots). Am I as forgiving as I think? Is my unconditional love really that unconditional, or can it be based on time and circumstance? Would I really stand up for what’s right in a very compromising situation? Point is: You never know unless you’re in someone else’s shoes. Outcomes are never accurately predicted.

Tayari Jones provides these existential questions in her 2018 smash, An American Marriage, which Oprah has promoted. You think you know what you’re getting when you read the book sleeve about a black man in the south being wrongly accused of a crime. The New York Times says it best. “An American Marriage tells us a story we think we know … But Jones’s story isn’t the one we are expecting.” It’s a story that had me asking “What would I do?” from start to finish and flipping furiously to learn what decisions the characters would make. And let’s be honest: If something is fine by Oprah, it’s fine be me too.

An American Marriage

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Guest Reviewer: A Toe-To-Toe Annihilation

By: Nick Coffman

Jeff VanderMeer‘s novel Annihilation caught on the adapted screenplay train rather quickly. Just four years after being released to sci-fi lovers in hardback, the story is being shown on the silver screen, with Natalie Portman on board. The book is the first in the Southern Reach trilogy and tells the story of four women who set off to explore Area X, a remote area filled with mystery. As members of the twelfth expedition, Lena (Portman) and the others try to determine what has caused Area X to appear. Searching for answers, they are instead stricken with paranoia of what may lurk beyond each corner.

It’s only natural that movies and the books that they’re the based off will be compared to one another. Therefore, it’s time to go toe to toe with Annihilation: book versus movie.

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Who Run the World?

Back in 1969, women were not running the world. Sorry, Bey. They weren’t running Newsweek either. In fact, they were so far removed from running the newsmagazine that these talented individuals were relegated — and forced to reside inevitably — in research … until they got pissed off and did something about it. The Good Girls Revolt gives us the account of how 46 women at Newsweek said enough is enough and set a huge precedent.

Sometimes the content speaks for itself, and obviously The Good Girls Revolt spoke to me on a professional and personal level. Lynn Povich is a storyteller though, and she made me feel like I was right there alongside these women as they fought for what they deserved. Combining her writing abilities with a story that needed to be told made for the most lit book I’ve read in a long time.

The Good Girls Revolt

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So Much for My Happy Ending

  • What: Miss You
  • Who: Kate Eberlen
  • Pages: 433
  • Genre: Chick lit; romance
  • Published: 2016
  • The lit: 1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px1463390917-2400px of 5 flames

Let’s get one thing straight: A happy ending isn’t always sunshine and daisies. Sometimes they don’t end up together; sometimes the person with the terminal disease doesn’t miraculously pull through; sometimes questions are left unanswered. For me, a happy ending doesn’t mean being overjoyed; it simply means it’s powerful. It proves that sometimes a story ends with a little roughness around the edges because not everything in life is so cut and dry, perfect and jubilant. As long as the storytelling ends on a solid note, I’m a content reader.

I’m not sure Miss You got that memo. Because I read this 2016 novel en route from Florence to Rome and then to New York, I had a lot of uninterrupted time to become acquainted with the characters, to really dive into their lives. I felt a connection, like I was walking through life with them. That says a lot about the writer, Kate Eberlen, and that’s also why the ending seemed to serve such an injustice to 400 pages of beautiful writing and character development. I’d spent 16 wonderful years with these characters before a too-perfect finish skewed my opinion of the book.

Miss You

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Roman Holiday

“The Creator made Italy by designs from Michelangelo.” Mark Twain knew what he was talking about.

Italy has been my dream destination for as long as I can remember, but the fantasy really took off when I completed an A-Z project on the country in sixth grade. I owe Mrs. Holdinghausen, a geography bawse, so much.

So you can understand my awe and shock when my boyfriend surprised me on our two-year anniversary with a trip to Italy. He told me this was my dream and gave me free rein to plan whatever I wanted. (He probably regretted this after walking over 60 miles in seven days.)

After six months of planning, though I tried to keep some spontaneity, we took off from Newark with my heart racing on Feb. 6. It was finally happening: I was going to Italy.

Florence

View from Piazzale Michelangelo

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A Room with a Bad View

Traveling obviously gives me life and just perpetuates my wanderlust. For book lovers, one of its perks is uninterrupted hours of reading during long flights, especially of books set in your destination. As I embarked on my first Italian holiday, I had two novels in tow, and I was ready to immerse myself in this beautiful land, both physically and in my imagination. Unfortunately, one of those books was a chore to finish.

I had read a Goodreads comment that One Summer Day in Rome had a poor plot but intriguing details about the Roman landscape. At least I knew what I was getting into. The excitement of reading about landmarks and neighborhoods that I was about to or just explored wasn’t enough to bump up this novel’s excitement. I was looking for gelato and ended up with soft serve.

One Summer Day in Rome

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