Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians

Title: Crazy Rich Asians
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Series: Crazy Rich Asians # 1

Date of Publication: June 2013
Publisher: Doubleday


Synopsis

When Rachel goes to Singapore to meet her boyfriend Nicholas’s family and attend a wedding, she’s looking forward to a fun and relaxing vacation.  Never in her wildest dreams did she expect to find out that he’s from one of the wealthiest families in China, and that his family and their friends are incredibly manipulative, conniving, and shallow people.  Meanwhile, Nicholas’s mother isn’t happy that he’s dating an American with no wealth of her own, and she’ll do anything to make sure that her son doesn’t put a ring on that gold-digger’s finger.

My Thoughts

This book is a gem in the romantic comedy genre.  Riddled with numerous laugh-out-loud moments, this is a must-read for anyone looking for a fun read.  I listened to this story as an audiobook, and the reader was fantastic. There were times when I finished my commute or ran out of chores to do, but I still wanted to curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and listen to what would happen next.

Written in the third person, the novel follows a few different characters, catching a glimpse into the perspective of the rich and famous, as well as how they look from those on the outside.  We primarily follow Rachel, as mentioned in the synopsis, but we also follow Astrid.  Astrid is extremely wealthy and experiencing marital problems.  However, I would have been happy just following Rachel’s storyline. While Astrid’s chapters were funny at times, the plot wasn’t particularly compelling to me, and the “twist” at the end fell flat.  It was a little too far-fetched, and I wasn’t really sure of its point.

I hadn’t seen the movie prior to reading the book, but I’ve heard (shocker!) that the book is better than the movie.

Crazy Rich Asians

I highly recommend this book to those who want a modern-day romantic comedy that feels like it was written in the golden era of the genre.

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Book Review: Every Time He Dies by Tara East

Every Time He Dies

Every Time He Dies

Title: Every Time He Dies
Author: Tara East
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Date of Publication: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Self-Published


Synopsis

When Daphne’s cop fiance dies in an accident that she feels responsible for, she gives up her career dreams of becoming a toxicologist and instead becomes an embalmer. A year and a half later, she finds a wristwatch on the ground at the beach, and she is suddenly haunted by the ghost of a man who doesn’t remember who he is or how he died. Daphne is forced to confront the grief of losing her fiance while helping this man to find peace.  Meanwhile, her estranged cop father is investigating a brutal murder, and Daphne unknowingly finds herself caught in the killer’s crosshairs…

Plot

Every Time He Dies is a gripping read from its very first pages.  Told in the third person, there are multiple perspectives shown throughout the novel, including those of Daphne and her father.  It isn’t clear right away where the story is going to go, and there are several seemingly disconnected subplots. Tara East expertly weaves from one to the other, so that the two subplots do not actually seem all that disjointed.  All the subplots tie together quite nicely in a climactic end to a thrilling read.  There are no plot holes in this thrill ride.

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Book Review: Catfishing on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer

Catfishing on Catnet

Catfishing on Catnet

Title: Catfishing on Catnet
Author: Naomi Kritzer
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Date of Publication: November 19, 2019
Publisher: Tor Teen


Synopsis

This book is marketed as a dark thriller. I mean, look at that cover (Which, by the way, is not the cover it had when I requested it through NetGalley. That cover had cute cyber-kitties on it). Doesn’t this cover make the book look dark and spooky? Even the description and the initial reviews made it sound like a dark thriller about an AI that goes off its rocker.

On the contrary, this is a light book about a girl who’s always been on the run with her mother. They always have to move to different towns, so Stephanie doesn’t have any friends–in the real world. She has friends in CatNet, a chat room where pictures of cats and other adorable animals are like currency.  It’s quickly revealed that one of these friends is an artificial intelligence, and this AI wants to come out of the closet.  Meanwhile, Stephanie will do whatever it takes to keep from having to move to another town, because there’s a girl in her class who she isn’t ready to leave.

Plot

This book has a lot of great ideas, but I was disappointed in the execution. I’ll start with one of my favourite parts. In school, the students are expected to learn sex education from a robot, because adults find that topic uncomfortable. This part had me laughing (and a little angry, because it’s so darn accurate), and every time students would ask an unsanctioned question (about LGBTQ+ issues, for instance) the robot would tell them to ask their parents.  This was a hilarious and interesting projection of the current political climate, and I do wish this book had had more of these types of funny (yet upsetting) insights.

I absolutely loved the metaphor of the AI coming out as an artificial intelligence. However, for a book that is very Social Justice Warrior-y, the characters were often insensitive, and a lot of the metaphors really didn’t work. Stephanie should not have been running around telling everyone that [spoiler] was an AI, because that ruins the metaphor.  It was the AI’s choice to tell people, not Stephanie’s.  *Sigh*

I enjoyed the main story arc of the novel, but again, it wasn’t particularly suspenseful or dark. I would have liked for there to have been a few twists or turns in the storyline, to keep me asking questions.  Maybe I’ve been reading too many psychological thrillers, but I usually expect a twist or two in my books. At least one. (And that twist can’t be the one in the first chapter that reveals that one of the main characters is an AI).

Characters

I didn’t particularly like Stephanie, the main character. I felt for her plight, particularly the fact that her mother had lied to her her entire life, and her inability to make real-life friends–because she knew that these relationships could only be temporary. However, there were a few times when I really couldn’t stand Stephanie. In particular–when her mother is in the hospital, and Stephanie doesn’t know what’s wrong with her or if she’s even dying–and she doesn’t check on her for a very long time. Her mother has been essentially her only real-life friend her entire life, yet she doesn’t come across as particularly worried. She’s more concerned about her budding romance–which may be authentic for a teenage character, but this doesn’t make for a sympathetic character.

The saving grace for this book Stephanie’s relationship with Rachel. It was gradual, not insta-love, and they had cute interactions. However, I don’t understand why characters in non-fantasy YA books need to be so quirky these days. Why can’t the main character’s love interest be a normal girl who doesn’t draw on people and who has a normal number of birds waiting for her when she gets home (And for those asking, I’d say a normal number of birds would be 1-4).  

Catfishing on Catnet

I recommend this book to those who are looking for a YA quasi-thriller about artificial intelligence and contemporary social justice warrior issues. Just don’t think about the metaphors too much, and you might enjoy this book.

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*Thank you to Tor Teen and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy for review*

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Book Review: The Hellbound Heart

Hellbound Heart

The Hellbound Heart

Title: The Hellbound Heart
Author: Clive Barker
Genre: Horror
Date of Publication: November 1986
Publisher: been republished numerous times


My Thoughts

I remember when I was a kid, hanging out at the movie store, trying to decide what age-appropriate film to rent.  I always found myself back in the horror section, staring at the covers in fascination. Hellraiser was one of the covers I often returned to. It mesmerized me. I eventually saw the movie years later, and it quickly became a favourite.

I finally read the novella this brilliant movie was based on this year.  Being a novella, it is quite fast paced, and the horror begins within the first few pages. Despite the short length of it, we get to delve into the motivations of the main characters with a remarkable amount of detail.

This is my first Clive Barker book, and it definitely won’t be my last. His writing style is unique and beautiful and horrifying. I want to explore another world he’s created with his brilliantly twisted mind and unrivaled talent for putting words to the pages.

Before reading this book, I was warned that it’s quite similar to the movie, and that I might be disappointed because of this. To the contrary. I was in the mood to rewatch the movie, so I read the book instead. It is a terror-ride from cover to cover, and recommended reading for any horror lover.

Hellbound Heart

Recommended for those who love the movie, or for those who are looking for a bite-sized horror novel to read before a sleepless night.

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