Review: Our Missing Hearts

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
Publisher: Random House
Pub Date: 10/4/2022

Thank you to PRH Audio for the free audiobook copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. Bird knows to not ask too many questions, stand out too much, or stray too far. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” in the wake of years of economic instability and violence. To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic—including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old.

Bird has grown up disavowing his mother and her poems; he doesn’t know her work or what happened to her, and he knows he shouldn’t wonder. But when he receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, he is pulled into a quest to find her. His journey will take him back to the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of librarians, into the lives of the children who have been taken, and finally to New York City, where a new act of defiance may be the beginning of much-needed change.

Our Missing Hearts is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice. It’s a story about the power—and limitations—of art to create change, the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact.

Review: Our Missing Hearts is the third book I’ve read from Celeste Ng and one of my most anticipated reads. This contemporary/dystopian novel explores themes of injustice, community, legacy, and parent-child relationships. This book is pretty heavy and so heartbreaking. The author touches upon subjects of missing children, discrimination, abandonment, and hate crimes to name a few. The story is about a boy named bird is sets off on a quest to find out the truth about his mother and why she left. The writing style captured me from the first page and as I was reading, I had no idea where the story would take me. All the characters are flawed and yet my heart ached for what they had to go through. Highly recommend picking this one up if you loved Celeste’s previous books!

Review: Carrie Soto Is Back

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pub Date: 8/30/2022

Thank you to Random House for the free advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: In this powerful novel about the cost of greatness, a legendary athlete attempts a comeback when the world considers her past her prime—from the New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising.

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season. In this riveting and unforgettable novel, Taylor Jenkins Reid tells her most vulnerable, emotional story yet.

Review: Carrie Soto may sound familiar to you as you met her briefly in Malibu Rising. Carrie has an affair with Nina Riva’s tennis star husband, Brandon Randall (fyi this isn’t a spoiler)! Carrie Soto Is Back explores the world of tennis, ageism, family, and vulnerability. Overall, I loved this one and it deserves all the stars! I adored the relationship that Carrie has with her father/coach, Javier. I loved that TJR shows the up and downs in their relationship along with overcoming difficult situations. To some readers, Carrie may come off as a cold-hearted bitch, but given that she’s under the public’s eye and every move she makes is scrutinized, it doesn’t surprise me she is the way she is. What I love the most is that we get to see Carrie’s character grow and change throughout the story. I liked how it’s mostly told through Carrie’s perspective, but there is also tidbits of sportscaster commentary and articles to break it out. One aspect of the novel I loved the most was the fact that TJR touched upon how society views women aging. There were so many incredible quotes I ended up tabbing. Highly recommend picking this one up if you’re a TJR fan!

Review: I’ll Be You

I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown
Publisher: Random House
Pub Date: 4/26/2022

Thank you to Random House for the free finished copy and PRH Audio for the free audiobook copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: Two identical twin sisters and former child actors have grown apart—until one disappears, and the other is forced to confront the secrets they’ve kept from each other in this twisty suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Things.

“You be me, and I’ll be you,” I whispered.

As children, Sam and Elli were two halves of a perfect whole: gorgeous identical twins whose parents sometimes couldn’t even tell them apart. They fell asleep to the sound of each other’s breath at night, holding hands in the dark. And once Hollywood discovered them, they became B-list child TV stars, often inhabiting the same role.

But as adults, their lives have splintered. After leaving acting, Elli reinvented herself as the perfect homemaker: married to a real estate lawyer, living in a house just blocks from the beach. Meanwhile, Sam has never recovered from her failed Hollywood career, or from her addiction to the pills and booze that have propped her up for the last fifteen years.

Sam hasn’t spoken to her sister since her destructive behavior finally drove a wedge between them. So when her father calls out of the blue, Sam is shocked to learn that Elli’s life has been in turmoil: her husband moved out, and Elli just adopted a two-year-old girl. Now she’s stopped answering her phone and checked in to a mysterious spa in Ojai. Is her sister just decompressing, or is she in trouble? Could she have possibly joined a cult? As Sam works to connect the dots left by Elli’s baffling disappearance, she realizes that the bond between her and her sister is more complicated than she ever knew.

I’ll Be You shows Janelle Brown at the top of her game: a story packed with surprising revelations and sharp insights about the choices that define our families and our lives—and could just as easily destroy them

Review: I’ll Be You is the second book I’ve read from Janelle Brown. This psychological thriller dives into former child actor lives, twins, strained relationships, and secrets. Overall, I really enjoyed this one! From the first page, I had no idea where the story was going to go. The twists and turns of each page has me curious what the end game was going to be. This is definitely a character driven story and it is a bit of a slow burn. I really loved that not only we got read perspectives from the twins (Sam and Ellie), but there were also now and then chapters within each perspective. I mostly listened the audiobook which Julia Whelan and Kate Rudd narrate. I loved their narrations which helped me get invested in the story further. The only part I wasn’t sure how I felt was the ending, but I won’t mention any spoilers. The author discusses a lot of heavy subjects in this book so read with care if you decide to pick up (I won’t list them here as some of the subjects may be spoilers). Highly recommend picking up I’ll Be You if you like twisted thrillers!