One More Chapter: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Thank you for joining me on this bookish jaunt! "One More Chapter" is the name I decided to give to my book review feature that used to be called "Bookworm Beat." After being so lazy about it, I'm happy to finally be getting into a good habit of reading once again and I'm really looking forward to sharing certain selections with you! One More Chapter will be devoted to reviews of a single book, whereas "Bookworm Beat" will likely be a quick summary of what else I've been reading lately. If you ever have any recommendations for more books or comments on the one currently being reviewed, please share! I LOVE talking all things books with ANYONE, so bring it on!!

The first selection I'm going with is "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng. This book is the sophomore release by Ng, author of "Everything I Never Told You." I haven't read her debut title yet even though I own it, but after reading "Little Fires Everywhere" I think I'm going to have to move it up on my TBR list!

"Little Fires Everywhere" was published in September of this year and was a Book of the Month choice for that month. As a BotM member, I didn't choose this particular title and has a major case of buyer's remorse once I heard of the praise this book was getting (for the record, I chose "The Power" by Naomi Alderman). I snatched it up from Target as soon as I could and raced through it in less than two days, so I hope that gives some insight as to what I think of this book. I'm not a particularly slow reader, but I seem to get distracted by other things in life (I'm sure everyone can relate to that!) and so I will often set a book down for days at a time before coming back to it. This book, however, got to be too intriguing to step away from for too long.

Let me give you a quick rundown without spoiling anything. This novel is set in Shaker Heights, a ritzy suburban community in Ohio where order and presentation is everything to everyone. Or almost everyone. The Richardsons are one of the wealthy, well-respected families in the city who have always had it easy and predictable. Elena and Bill Richardsoon and their children--Tripp, Lexie, Moody, and Izzy--haven't had to deal with much drama in their lives...that is, until Mia and Pearl Warren move into the neighborhood. Mrs. Richardson, who has a home she rents out as a gesture of self-important goodwill, takes Mia and Pearl on as tenants. Mia, a photographer and single mother to Pearl, lived an itinerant life since Pearl was born but made the decision to settle down in Shaker Heights indefinitely. After all, Shaker Heights is the model of idyllic living, right?

Pretty soon, all four Richardson children and both parents become entangled with the Warren duo, especially after a custody battle has Mrs. Richardson and Mia on opposite sides of the issue. Things spiral as secrets surface and we quickly learn that all actions have a ripple effect. Mia's mysterious past (Where did she come from? Who is Pearl's father??) and Elena Richardson's seemingly stable and perfect life crash into each other, leaving a lot of pain, confusion, and answers in their wake. The true nature of these people begins to show underneath the crumbling facade they have tried so hard to maintain. By the end of the book, everything is to intertwined that you can't help but praise Ng's storytelling and ability to think out a plot like this without making it too convoluted.

The title of this book is so appropriate, with references to fire, cleansing, etc scattered throughout. The theme is clear here and as a reader, you realize just how much everyone is keeping within themselves to keep up appearances. At some point, everyone breaks and sometimes the only way to recover is by burning it all down. Which, by the way, is exactly what happens at the very beginning of the book.

The writing, I thought, was very good, particularly with the characters. I found myself gritting my teeth as all of the misunderstandings, miscommunication, and mistakes being made that just compounded on themselves until they reached a point where there was no turning back. Interestingly enough, the one character whose perspective we really didn't get all that much was Mr. Richardson, and his involvement in the plot was honestly a little irrelevant. I didn't mind this, however, because there was already so much going on with so many strings criss-crossing in the plot.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I found myself ripping through the chapters, at times having a pretty good idea of what I would find next but still managing to be surprised by the way the details came out. This was also one of the few books I have recently finished where the ending seemed satisfying to me. A little symbolic maybe, but pretty much a resolution that made me feel okay with how everything wrapped up. I'm sitting here still wondering about Izzy...

If you have read this book, please let me know what you thought! And stay tuned for the next edition of One More Chapter.

Just Hitting Refresh Over Here...

I have had Hazel & Honey for a little bit now, and realizing that has made me think over a few things. Namely, my reason for running a blog in the first place. When I first started this, I had so many fun ideas of what content I would post and how it would be an interesting way to express myself. But quickly I fell out of love with what I was doing. I didn't know why. I just felt guilty about it.

I knew I had to be honest with myself as to what this was all about. Yes, it's "just a blog," but it was still something I felt the need to put effort in. I was reading some great, cute blogs and wanted to be like them. I wanted to collaborate with cool artists or brands or other bloggers. I wanted that recognition and feeling like I had a point of view. But that was the absolute wrong thing to do.

If I continue to try and be like my favorite bloggers, this is going to be tedious and fake. So the only way I can enjoy blogging again is if I just be myself, no matter what others may think of that. So here goes...

First and foremost, my number one priority for almost a year now has been my daughter. That's not changing. And motherhood has been the hugest game changer in my life. So why am I not sharing more about that? It seems inauthentic. So starting now, I'm going to be including a lot more about parenthood and having a child/children, and balancing that with all the stuff that made me "me" before I became a parent.

Second, I really enjoy being creative and working with my hands. I have been scrapbooking for almost 20 years now and I realized that I hardly EVER share that with anyone. Isn't that a little weird? I used to get constant remarks about how that is such an antiquated "granny" hobby and that always left me confused...these folks had no idea what scrapbooking has become! I guess that has made me a little apprehensive about posting it online and whatnot, but I think it's time to say screw it. So I'm hoping to share more about any creative projects I'm working on.

I also love books and reading. Bookstores are basically mini-Disneyworlds in my eyes. I love going into local used bookstores whenever my husband and I go out-of-town, just walking amongst all of the shelving and getting a neck ache from reading the sideways spines on the books. I've been a part of a few now-defunct book clubs (always trying, though!) just because I LOVE to talk books with people I know. I like reading pretty much everything and I am really excited to share what I'm reading and get recommendations from other people!! That TBR list is never going to stop growing.

There are other things I'm into that will also make their way onto the blog now and then. Beauty, fashion, cooking, etc. The categories at the top of the page also aren't going anywhere, and I decided not to delete any previous posts. I think it's important to see the evolution of my blog over time and I am not embarrassed about being a total noob. We all gotta start somewhere, am I right?

So I hope you enjoy the new Hazel & Honey. I'm finalizing some recurring features I'd like to include, but if there is anything anyone would like to see, I would be open to suggestions!

Thanks so much for stopping by!! Hope to chat soon ;)