Nicole Reads

Nicole Reads

Consumed with wanderlust. Dreams of writing her own novel. Devours books. Fluent in Spanglish. Intersectional feminist.

Review
4 Stars
[REVIEW] Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham
Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) - Lauren Graham

I did not expect to love this book as much as I did then again, who am I kidding? I love Gilmore Girls (even if I'm still upset about that revival).

Ms. Graham is just so charming! I stopped doing things during the day so that I could listen to her. I love her voice, her fast talk, her candor. I love that she sings in the recording and talks openly about her time in Gilmore Girls, her writing (she's adapting 'The Royal We' for the film!) and her methods (which I plan to revisit once I'm back in the writing saddle), her acting career and her love life. I legit teared up when she spoke about Edward Herrmann, you could tell she and everyone in the cast really loved him.

The only reason I docked a star is because she makes a lot of references to pictures that are clearly in the print book and it got frustrating that I couldn't see them because, duh, this is an audiobook.

Beyond that, this audiobook was a delight to listen to and I truly recommend it.

Review
3.5 Stars
[REVIEW] Sex Object by Jessica Valenti
Sex Object - Jessica Valenti
What it feels like to see a stranger smiling while rubbing himself or know that this is the price of doing business while female. That public spaces are not really public for you, but a series of surprise private moments that you can't prevent or erase. 
Pg. 65



This book is hard to rate. It was incredibly easy to read, but it also contains extremely uncomfortable subjects: date rape, sexual harassment, molestation, and many other issues.

Ms. Valenti tries to understand how she survives and functions in a world that is hell-bent on shaming her for existing, for having a body, for having an opinion and sharing it.

For the most part, the essays are uncomfortably honest and raw. They make you angry, they make you sad, they make you think what sort of experiences you've gone through that you've refused to talk about because you don't want to take space or make anyone uncomfortable. This book isn't uplifting. It's melancholic, detached but it makes you think.

Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 205 pages.
Sex Object - Jessica Valenti

[...] because for a feminist, anger is forbidden.

 

JFC, this is so true and so infuriating to me.

Reading progress update: I've read 107 out of 205 pages.
Sex Object - Jessica Valenti

Being treated nicely felt wrong somehow, as if we were acting out what a relationship should be rather than being in it. For men who hate women, an admission like this one is proof that see, women want a guy who treats them like shit but that's not true either. What is closer to the truth is that when confronted with the love you deserve, it is easier to mock it than accept it.

Reading progress update: I've read 102 out of 205 pages.
Sex Object - Jessica Valenti

This is super easy to read, even if it makes me uncomfortable at times.

Reading progress update: I've read 16 out of 205 pages.
Sex Object - Jessica Valenti

Naming what is happening to us, telling the truth about it--as ugly and uncomfortable as it can be--means that we want it to change.

 

Oh boy, I can tell this is going to be a difficult read for me.

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] Story Genius by Lisa Cron
Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere) - Lisa Cron

This will be a complicated review to write.

I took the Story Genius workshop. It’s not for the faint of heart or those, who like me at the time, are juggling their final semester at the university plus grad school applications. Regardless, I gave it a go, and it did help me a lot. Having a deadline and a book coach that is following you along and helping you with your story was something I had never done before. It both helped and frustrated me.

Back to the book.

When I borrowed this from my friend, I thought this was the end-all-be-all of writing books. I seriously considered never buying another craft book again because Story Genius made me think of different things for once. It didn’t spew the usual spiel that other craft books do. It made me focus on the character: their backstory, how they became the person they are at the start of the novel, the specifics of who they are as a person (what secrets they keep, why do they keep them, etc. ). It’s very sound advice. However, after a certain point, it becomes too convoluted, and the book slows to a crawl. It’s too much information, too much repetition of that same information.

I did like that instead of crowding examples from well-known tv shows or movies, we experienced a writer building a novel from the ground up along with us (the reader), so we have a frame of reference.

If you take the time to do the exercises, the book takes forever to finish. Doing the scene cards was nothing short of a nightmare for me. I have never considered myself to be a plotter, but I do know that I benefit from having at least a clue of where the story is going, but the amount of detail that is required for the scene cards is just too much for me.

After a while, I got bored and dropped the book altogether for very long stretches of time. Whenever I picked it back up, it was because a NaNoWriMo event was just around the corner (which is ironic because the author HATES NaNoWriMo with a passion). Also, I am guilty of skimming the last 20 pages.

It does have its good points and invaluable advice but sometimes the book gets lost in its message.

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Devil in Spring - Lisa Kleypas

What a sweet, fluffy read that went into wtf territory as soon as we hit the 75% mark. 

Is there a need for Ms. Kleypas to add a terrorist conspiracy near the end of the book? because it made no sense to me and it seemed tacked on.

(show spoiler)


First things first, Gabriel (the hero) is not a rake, so I have no idea why it says in the blurb that he is. That threw me off completely. He's a good enough hero, but he is easily overshadowed by his father, who appears many times in this book. Pandora (the heroine) is annoying but still, manages to be endearing at times. As a couple, they are just fine. Nothing out of the ordinary or memorable but fluffy enough to make me sigh in happiness a few times. I did love how patient he was with her (because believe you me, she can test anyone's patience) and how he tried to help her overcome difficulties with his support. Their relationship really felt like a partnership and I appreciated that.

Beware, the insta-lust/love is strong on this one. Blink, and you'll miss when the hero suddenly had to possess her with all his might.

The dialogue was fast-paced and smart, the easy humor is there. I kept giggling out loud at some lines.

Assuming the next book in the series is between Ethan and Garrett, I'm calling it now: Ethan is a Ravenel, probably Pandora's mother's love child.

(show spoiler)
Review
5 Stars
[REVIEW] Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Loved this book. How wonderful it is, how educational and how enlightening to read something like this. It helped me realize my own shortcomings as a feminist and how I will hopefully overcome these things and improve.

It's definitely another must-read by Ms. Adichie.

Review
4 Stars
[REVIEW] Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice -  Jane Austen

I finally finished this book! YAY! My goodness, it took me forever to do so. It's as romantic as I had expected but also very difficult to keep track of all the Miss Bennetts. Lindsey Duncan's narration was delightful and she infused it with a lot of emotion.

Before reading/listening

I have tried many times to read this but I have failed each and every one. Hopefully, an audiobook will make the experience easier on me.

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
The Story of the Lost Child: The fourth and final Neapolitan novel. - Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein
"I loved Lila. I wanted her to last. But I wanted it to be I who made her last. I thought it was my task. I was convinced that she herself, as a girl, had assigned it to me." (98%)



Actual review
Honestly, I don't even know what to think. This final book in the series was the one that to me, contained the wealth of Elena Ferrante's wisdom, and it is also the book that was quite difficult to plow through. Sometimes Ms. Ferrante fills us with so many details that I find inconsequential that it slows down the story nearly to a halt. 

Nonetheless, this book is powerful. Seeing Lenù and Lila go through a series of violent and terrible life events hits you in the gut. But Ms. Ferrante's masterful weaving pulls everything back together again, and you are brought to the beginning of the first book right as you finish the fourth.

But what is, as usual, the best part of these novels is the characterization. I know I've said this before in my review of the other three novels, but I truly have never read a more raw, honest and gripping tale of a friendship between two women. It's not black and white; it's not simplistic, it's messy and tangled in a web of loyalty and guilty desire for independence not only of each other but also their circumstance.

 

In the end, though, I feel numb. I have so many questions. 

Like, what really happened to Tina? Is she alive? Is she dead? What happened to Lila? Are she and Lenù never going to see each other again?

(show spoiler)

 

That's the thing about these novels. Though the novel (and by consequence the series) ends on a bittersweet note, you don't end up with a happy, hopeful glow. All you will have left is this overwhelming melancholy and a fierce wish that things were different in their world and ours.

After I finished reading
I don't know how to rate this just yet or even what to write for my review. I have been reading this book nonstop for 48 hours. I need a mental break to pick up my soul from the ground.

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay - Elena Ferrante
"The solitude of women’s minds is regrettable, I said to myself, it’s a waste to be separated from each other, without procedures, without tradition." 
(72%)



TW: This book contains SEXUAL ASSAULT, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 

I need time for my heart and my mind to recover. And to think this isn't the last book of the series. Elena Ferrante is a master storyteller. How is it that she can truly capture the good, the bad, the despicable, the intimacy of female friendships? How can she effortlessly capture the impossibility of surviving in a patriarchal society? Her tale and her words have me utterly spellbound and also terrified. 

With each passing book, I find myself loving Lila's unbreakable and fragile spirit more. I wish I had her strength, her resolve. But if I had to choose whom I resembled the most, it would have to be Lenù. Succumbing to the pressure of who we need to be, trying to leave our hometown before it swallows us whole and erases our dreams, and makes us forget who we are.

What will happen to Lila? What will happen to Lenù? I'm scared of finding out.

Review
4 Stars
[REVIEW] The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
The Story of a New Name - Elena Ferrante
"[...] she was explaining to me that I had won nothing, that in the world there is nothing to win, that her life was full of varied and foolish adventures as much as mine, and that time simply slipped away without any meaning, and it was good just to see each other every so often to hear the mad sound of the brain of one echo in the mad sound of the brain of the other." (98%)



TW: This book contains SEXUAL ASSAULT, RAPE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 

What a rollercoaster. The thing is that these books are so intense and so emotionally exhausting, you end up feeling beside yourself when you finish. On hand you are marveled at the character development, the twists and turns of the plot, on another you are feeling so depressed and hopeless you might need to drown your sorrows into a cup of tea (or bourbon) just to feel like a human again.

This book is intense and so hard to rate. I hated it because of how desolate it made me feel. I also think it's a gripping story that ends with an effin' cliffhanger, again.

The character names are at times similar so you get confused or who is who. There are many nicknames and names to keep track of. It can make for a challenging reading experience, but a worthwhile one.

One thing is for certain, I have never read characters like the ones Ferrante writes about. Yes, they are fucking awful people but you feel for them. You identify with them, you try to reason or justify their faults, you want to believe the best in them. And when they disappoint you it feels like you're being gutted. 

I am all about happy endings but I'm seriously wondering if it's even possible that Lenù or Lila will get theirs.

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened - Allie Brosh

Read this in a day while rebelling against my mountain of schoolwork.

I must be the exception to the rule because I did not find this funny at all. Half the time I was jarred by the lack of connection between the chapters and then I remembered this was a blog so it's not supposed to have a thread, maddening as it was. The other half of the time I was bored.

Nonetheless, I found myself relating to certain things she described particularly concerning depression. The artwork is very amusing and the parts with the dogs were my favorite.
 

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein

TW: This book contains VIOLENCE and SEXUAL ASSAULT 

JFC WHAT A CLIFFHANGER.

My head hurts from reading this, from the feelings it has evoked, from the sadness that clings to me like a second skin because I cannot understand what has happened or why I feel that I'm aboard a train that will crash at any second.

What a strange, heart-wrenching read about what it's like to be a girl immersed in poverty and trying to claw out of it, out of the violent reality and ultimately, perhaps, failing. 

The friendship between Lila and Lenù is the best part of this confusing novel. Seeing how well Ms. Ferrante portrays the intricate, overwhelming, consuming, envious and loving reality of girl friendships has earned her a special place in my heart. I have never read a portrayal like this.

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon

I predicted the twist from the very beginning so that really took me away from the narrative. I did not like how the end was wrapped up in a somewhat neat bow. It all seemed dismissive to me. It's hard to explain. The middle is a bit of a slog to get through. It was too easy to stop reading and do something else. This book also has a case ofinsta-love but one that I can excuse given the fact that Madeline has never been exposed to a situation like this before. 

However, the I-love-you scene was strangely anticlimactic and not very heartfelt. It read like the author had to get them to say that cause they were going to have sex in the next chapter.

(show spoiler)


That being said, I enjoyed how easy this book is to read because the chapters are so short and Ms. Yoon's prose is so breezy. I loved the little illustrations that complimented the reading experience. This is one of those books that--should you choose to read it--you should buy a physical copy. I loved that Madeline was biracial. I loved that she loves The Little Prince almost as much as I do.

Still, I can't get over that 'twist' or how that end was so... incomplete.

currently reading

Progress: 20/234pages