The 20 Questions Book Tag

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Hello everyone!

Hope you are doing well! I was tagged by Kelly @ Another Book in the Wall to do the 20 Questions Book Tag. The questions sound really fun so I am excited to get started!

1. How many books is too many books in a series?

I have a short attention span and most of the books that I read are standalones. Three books in a series is probably all that I can tolerate. (Unless it is super awesomely epic like Harry Potter, that is.)

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

I don’t mind cliffhangers at the end of a chapter because it keeps me turning the pages! However, it is annoying when there is a cliffhanger at the end of a book in the series.

3. Hardback or paperback?

Although I love the appearance of hardcover books, they are heavy to lug around all day since I do most of my reading on the bus and train. For this reason I appreciate the convenience of a paperback novel.

4. Favorite book?

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I am in agreement with Kelly on this one! I just finished reading The Book Thief this month and it is my favourite book of all time.

5. Least favorite book?

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There are many books that I find uninteresting or mediocre, but in terms of my least favourite book, Want takes the cake. I’ve never read a book that was so carelessly written!

6. Love triangles, yes or no?

I think love triangles can be done well, so yes!

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

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I know! This is such a classic! I started listening to the audiobook of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and… just couldn’t get through the beginning. However it is a book that I want to finish reading one day.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

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I am listening to the audiobook of Anne Frank and loving it so much.

9. Last book you recommended to someone?

Both of these books are so cute and fun so they are usually the first books that I would recommend to a friend who is looking for a light and easy read. Did I mention that I just watched the Love Simon movie, and really really loved it!?

10. Oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

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This is probably also the longest book that I’ve read! To this day I am still proud of reading all 1563 pages of Les Miserables 🙂

11. Newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

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I was dying for this one to hit the shelves!

12. Favorite author?

This is a hard one! My favourite young adult authors are Jasmine Warga, Becky Albertalli, and V.E. Schwab.

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

I love borrowing from the library! My library also has Overdrive, which allows me to borrow eBooks and audiobooks conveniently from a phone app. The reality is that most of the books that I read, I will only read once, so it makes much more economic sense for me to borrow rather than buy.

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seem to love?

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The things that happen in this book are waaaay too unrealistic!

15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

Though I used to dog-ear books, I got out of that habit and now I like to keep my books in good condition. However, I could never keep track of where my bookmarks are, so I tend to reach for the next closest thing – receipts, scrap paper, business cards, etc. 🙂

16. A book you can always reread?

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I’m with Kelly on this one as well! And actually, I am planning to re-read the HP series really really soon (so excited!!)

17. Can you read while hearing music?

Only if the music is soft and has no words that I can understand.

18. One POV or multiple POV’s?

I think I’ve enjoyed books that are both single or multiple POVs. However some multiple POV books annoy me when the POV changes are too frequent.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

There are books that are so addictive that I couldn’t help but read in one sitting (Simon Vs comes to mind!) However in most cases I end up reading a book over multiple days simply because I don’t have time.

20. A book you’ve read because of the cover?

I don’t tend to read books based on the cover anymore, since now I rely more on reviews from Goodreads and the blogging community. However I am so in love with the covers of this duology by Victoria Schwab!

I tag these wonderful peeps!

Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books

Margaret @ Weird Zeal

Kat @ Life and Other Disasters

The Orangutan Librarian

Lois @ My Midnight Musing

And whoever is interested in doing this tag!

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Thanks for reading! How would you answer some of these questions? Do you have a favourite book (of all time)!? Have you seen the Love Simon movie?

 

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9 Ways to Beat the Writing Blues

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Hello everyone!

We’ve all been there: Whether we write novels or blogs (or both), we’ve likely had days, weeks, months or even years when we just feel… well, uninspired. The words don’t flow, we’re out of ideas, or our characters don’t speak to us.

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This topic is personally relevant to me because for the past few months I had a writing slump. Even though I fulfilled my goal of writing a bit each day, I felt disconnected with my characters and my story. There was this little (very very bad) birdie who whispered in my ear that my novel sucks and I might as well not write it.

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Thankfully, 30K words into my novel, I am now feeling inspired and excited about my story. There is no bullet when it comes to beating writer’s block, but here are a few things that were helpful for me:

(Note that most of these tips apply to writing a novel, though some of these may be helpful for writing blogs as well!)

1. Writing tags, memes, and link-ups

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Writing tags are like book tags, except you answer questions about your characters or your story rather than books! They are a great way to get to know your characters without the pressure of adding to your manuscript. Who knows, you might discover a gem that you want to include in your story! Oh, and writing tags are super, duper fun.

Some examples:

2. Get onto Pinterest! (And make some aesthetics!)

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I make a Pinterest board for each of my characters, and fill them with pictures that relate to my character. You can also create a board for the setting of your story if there are pictures that remind you of your world. This is a fun way to get to know your character and find inspiration for your novel. Warning: This can get very, very addictive.

3. Join a writing challenge.

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You probably know about Nanowrimo, which is the writing challenge in November where you resolve to start and finish a 50K word novel by the end of the month. Camp Nanowrimo is an event that is happening in April (right now!) and July, where we can set a word or minute goal for a month.

4. Call a friend.

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Sometimes it is helpful to bounce ideas off of a friend! He or she might just have a suggestion about your plot or your characters that can help you over your hump.

5. Skip ahead.

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If you are stuck on a section that is boring or difficult to write, why not skip ahead and write the next section? Come back to that earlier section when you are feeling inspired!

6. Make writing a habit.

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I find it hard to get into the mindset of writing if I haven’t done it in weeks or even days. On the other hand, I feel more acquainted with my characters and my story when it is something that I do every day. You might want to make writing a task to check off the calendar, or designate a place and time to write.

7. Read. Read. Read.

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Chances are, we’ve all read novels that are just so amazing that they inspire us to be creative as well! My personal philosophy is that reading lots is the key to becoming a good writer. Through reading, we are subconsciously picking up on what works and what doesn’t work in terms of plot, characters and pacing.

8. Go ahead and daydream.

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Yes! I am serious! Daydreaming is not just for children. By thinking about your novel frequently, you may come up with an idea for the backstory or the main plot line.

9. Keep on writing on.

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You might want to put your project aside for a minute, a day, a week or even longer. But always come back. Never, ever give up!

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Have you had a writer’s block? What are your tips and tricks for getting out of it?

GUEST POST: Hollow Worlds – World Building when you’re not an Architect

By Chauncey Rogers

Thanks for hosting today, Sophie! It’s lovely to participate in your blog’s great content. 🙂

Today we’re talking about another very important aspect of storytelling: world building, or the process of creating an understandable and easily visualized setting for your story—a place your reader can escape to whenever they pick up your book.

Now let’s say something pretty obvious: world building always matters. This should be a given. Readers expect something interesting when they crack open your book, and your setting plays into that.

However, less obvious to some writers is this: in world building, more isn’t always better. Better is always better.

I’m just overflowing with profundity today, am I not?

But here’s what I mean—when telling a story, one must always bear in mind the needs of the story, then the reader, then the writer. I touched on this already during this blog tour when discussing describing characters, but it’s an important thing to understand.

You will hear people say things like, “Write for yourself.” True, in a way, but also not.

You’ll also hear it said that “the reader is everything,” and that’s who you’re writing to. Again, true, but also not.

Writing for yourself is fine, unless you want to share your work and have others enjoy it. Writing for the reader is fine, too, excepting that there are many different readers with many different tastes, and even when working within the bounds of a well-defined genre, you will still encounter variances in what your readers want and appreciate.

But both you and your reader will appreciate a story that has been well told. Therefore, write for the story, and always do what is best for the story, including when it comes to world building.

What does that look like? As I said above, it depends. More isn’t always going to be better. There are different kinds of stories, and most don’t require incredibly complex world building. If you’re writing epic fantasy, spend more time on your world building. If you’re writing something shorter or lighter, don’t worry about it as much. Sure, you can write up pages and pages of notes on geography, etiquette, religion, philosophy, sports, history, etc. for the fantasy world you made. You can spend years on it—a lifetime, even. And it can all end up as a pile of scrap paper standing between you and your story.

I’m not going to say “go for the minimum,” because that sounds incredibly lazy and like a shortcut. But if I said, “Make it sufficient, and not much more,” would that maybe not sound so bad?

Because it’s what I honestly recommend doing.

Not only does overdoing your world building take up unnecessary time, but then you may also be tempted to incorporate it more and more into your story. Some of this is okay. Too much of it, though, and your novel starts to feel like a thick volume about a fantasy land, with a story awkwardly included. You have too much explaining—some of which may come across awkwardly.

And yes, your readers may want to know some things about the world you’ve made. So teach them some things! But honestly, I have very little idea about how electricity works, how it powers my microwave, or why it can make a bag of popcorn into something delicious. I just know that it does it, and that works for me. I know the sound the microwave makes when it runs, I know the sound of the popping popcorn, the way my mouth waters, the anticipation I feel, the taste and crunch of the popcorn, the way my hands get greasy, etc.

Those senses and sensations build a world for your reader. If the religion of the bad guy matters, include it. If it needs to be explained, fine. But worlds are built for readers the same way that we encounter ours here in real life—through the senses. So focus on those. And if you’re world doesn’t have a super smoothly polished history and notebooks filled with trivia attached to it, that’s totally fine. You can tell a story on a hollow world, so long as there’s enough on the surface that neither your characters nor your readers fall through it.

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What do you think? Do you appreciate stories that are filled with detail and backstory? Or do you prefer stories that focus on the narrative at hand, and don’t wander too much? There’s certainly room in this bookish world for both types of readers and writers, so don’t be shy of choosing a side in the comments!

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Day 8 of 13 of Happily’s Release Blog Tour. See the full schedule here.

Happily on GoodReads
Purchase Happily on Amazon!

Obsidio // An edge-of-the-seat finale

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24909347Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? 

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

What I liked

The characters! I love that the MCs from Illuminae and Gemina return. I also love Asha and Rhys, the two new MCs who are introduced in this book. My personal favourite is AIDAN, who is full of personality and growth, despite being an AI.

The super awesome, kickass female MCs. Kady, Hanna and Asha are strong, willful, and independent. They are not afraid to fight for the people they love and the values they cherish. I’m also happy to see female supporting characters such as Sierra and Winifred who lead with confidence and compassion.

The themes of artificial intelligence and war. We see the points of view of even the minor characters on either side of the war, who have friends, families or other people they care about. I like that characters are portrayed as humans, and that there is no one true villain.

Plot twists that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Dialogues are written with humour and wit.

The unique format. Consistent with the first two books, Obsidio is a collection of briefing notes, surveillance camera footage transcripts, chat logs, etc. I listened to the audiobook version, so the format may not be as pronounced. However I did sample a short segment of the print edition (impromptu bookstore visit) and I am impressed by the layout of the pages and the occasional illustrations from Hanna’s journal.

The audiobook is awesome. Love that the voice actors injected personality into each of their character roles. I also love the sound effects and the occasional background music. Did I mention that, rather than just one voice actor, there is an entire cast!?

What I didn’t like

With the addition of two new MCs (Asha and Rhys) and the inclusion of POVs of minor characters, I almost feel as if there are TOO many characters with less attention devoted to each one.

The Bottom Line

Illuminae and Gemina set high expectations for Obsidio, but the last book in this series does not disappoint. It is jam packed with action and plot twists, and a cast of characters who you will cheer on.

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What do you think about the Illuminae series? How do you feel about books with multiple POVs? Is there such a thing as TOO many characters?

April Goals and TBR!

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Hello everyone!

Happy April! And happy (belated) Easter to those who celebrate it!

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This Easter, I was blessed with a long weekend (4 days!) My family flew across the country to visit me in Vancouver. We did a few short hikes and ate lots of great food 🙂

As for my goals this month: Truthfully I am feeling a bit burnt out from March (work! taxes! general adult life!) Yes, adulting* really takes a toll out of you.

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*When does adulting really end? At what point are we actually an adult? Thirty? Forty? Fifty!? I think at some point I’ll just have to stop complaining about “adulting” and actually be an adult hahaha 😛

Anyway, so the point that I am getting to here is that I will just take it easy for April 🙂

I also want to announce the winner of my first ever giveaway! Congratulations to Tiana @ The Book Raven! Thank you to everyone who has participated!

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Reading

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Bullet Read 5 books!

Bullet Read some of the books that I already own, including Room and The Book Thief, both of which I’ve had on my bookshelf for quite a while.

Bullet Dabble in some classic literature, such as The Book Thief and The Bell Jar.

Writing

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My WIP is going, well………. incredibly slowly. Comparing it to this sloth here would be an understatement:

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Truth be told, I have never spent so long on a draft in my life. Sci-fi is a genre that doesn’t come naturally to me. For the first half of the novel, I often doubted the direction my novel is going, or whether it is any good at all. There was one point when I seriously considered scrapping the entire thing and starting over.

Thankfully I am over that hump now. I am about halfway through and feeling more inspired. Here are my writing goals this month:

Bullet Write a bit each day. I started doing this a few months back, and it is working well so far! Though I skip writing on a few incredibly busy days, overall I am able to make it a daily habit.

Bullet Finish my WIP by the end of the month. I estimate that I have about 25K words left to go. This means around 860 words per day, which *should* be totally doable based on how fast I know I can write. However considering that my first 32K happened over 4 months, this could be an ambitious goal :’)

Blogging & Media

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Bullet Post 2 times per week. Blog hop 2 times per week. This is working out well so far!

Bullet Revamp my blog. I am hoping to create the long-awaited review index and straighten up my menu a bit.

Bullet Get involved on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads. This is a HUGE goal which won’t get done over the course of one month! I’ll start by posting reviews on Goodreads in addition to this blog.

Life

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Bullet Continue living sustainably, such as using reusable containers, reusable bags, and cloth napkins.

Bullet Incorporate a variety of exercises into my workout routine. Because of a shoulder injury, I am taking a break from pole fitness for now. (This was a difficult decision for me to make because of how much I love pole!) For the month of April, I want to stay fit by doing a variety of exercises, such as running, gym classes, pilates and even swimming.

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Any books on your TBR for April? What are your goals?

When does adulting end? (Does it ever end!?) What do you do when you are feeling tired or burnt out? Which social media platform(s) are you involved in, and which do you enjoy the most? What exercises do you enjoy? (Fitness tips are welcome :D)

March Wrap-Up!

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Hello everyone!

Wow, it’s the end of March already!? And it is almost April!? What is this!!!?

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Seriously, March flew by for me. Before I know it, I’ll be seventy years old and rocking on a chair, shaking my head and mumbling, “It was like yesterday when I was just twenty-seven and typing my blog posts at the kitchen table…”

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^That’ll be me, fifty years later :”)

Am I the only one who feels this way!? It terrifies me how quickly time passes and I just want to hang on to every single minute of it! Anyway, before we sink into philosophy territory, let’s get on with it 🙂

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How is it that I read 9 books in February (which has 28 days) and only 4 books in March (which has 31 days!?)

I have no clue. :’) Though to cut myself some slack: 3 of these are pretty darn long, and most of these are also audiobooks, which take longer to read. (Yes, self, you are forgiven.)

Yes!! The long awaited Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) is FINALLY out! And it is such an AWESOME conclusion to the series. In this book, we are reunited with the old casts from Illuminae and Gemina, and introduced to some new characters as well. I love how the third book is just as packed with action and plot twists as its predecessors. I listened to the audiobook version, which is amazing! Review coming up!

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) is a stunning sequel for those who enjoyed the first book in the series! Check out my review here.

Though I enjoyed Everything Everything, The Sun is Also A Star was a disappointment for me. I liked the characters and the chemistry between them, but the plot points strike me as too unrealistic. Check out my review here.

Rebecca is a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a long, long time… And I finally did! I loved it so, SO much. It is truly a classic for a good reason: A romance, thriller, and commentary on gender norms all rolled up into one. I am always a bit intimidated by classics, but this one was quite easy to get into. Check out my review here.

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You guys inspire me everyday ❤ Check out these amazing posts around the blogosphere!

The Orangutan Librarian talks about writing styles in her new (and brilliant) blog series, Differences in Style! In this first post here, she compares purple prose with the pared down style.

Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books broaches a controversial topic: Is book blogging still relevant? A must-read for all bloggers, whichever side of the fence you stand!

Can and should an author review his or her own book? Inge @ The Belgian Reviewer talks about this very topic!

How many blog post drafts do you have? Sareena @ All of It ponders what your draft folder says about you.

Emmie @ Another Night of Reading tells us 3 journaling rules that we should ditch!

Are you a writer? Hailey @ All I Know is Grace sums up some super awesome writing tips that she learned from the Atlanta Writer’s Workshop!

Karis @ KarisBooks talks about why she loves libraries!

Zoie @ Whisked Away by Words shares pages from her new webcomic series! Be prepared for amazing artwork and sprinkles of humour 🙂

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How was your March? Do you feel the need to “forgive” yourself for not reading, writing or doing enough? What are your favourite reads this month? Can you think of a series that ended very satisfyingly? (If that is a word?)

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Last but not least, be sure to join my giveaway before Sunday March 31st! The winner will be announced on April 2nd! Click here for more details!

Suspenseful thrillers // We Were Liars & Rebecca

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16143347A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

What I Liked

Writing style is dramatic and poetic. It is interesting how emotions are described in this book: “Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed.” (Note: No one got shot here, literally, that is.)

I love how quotable this book is. Some of my favourites: “Be a little kinder than you have to.” “Do not accept an evil you can change.”

The complex family dynamics and how this affects the children.

The ending. I did NOT see that coming. However, in retrospect, there were little hints planted throughout the initial chapters of the book, so the revelation towards the end makes sense. I love books with meaningful plot twists that take me by surprise.

What I Didn’t Like

Despite how short this book is, the pacing is slow. There are moments where I wanted to skip forward in the story for something to happen. It didn’t feel like a thriller until about the last 20% of the book.

Although I liked the characters overall, the main character is an unreliable narrator, and this makes it hard to relate to her as the story progressed. It was difficult to like the adults in this book.

The Bottom Line: 3/5 stars

Despite the slow spacing, the finale of We Were Liars will have you turning the pages. The beautiful writing style enchanted me from beginning to end.

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17899948Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

 

 

 

What I Liked

The main characters, who are polar opposites of each other:

  • There is Rebecca, who is a feisty, strong-willed, independent woman. Even though she is already dead at the beginning of the novel, her presence dominates the story.
  • Then there is the narrator of this story, who is quiet, subdued and seeks approval from her husband and her servants. She is haunted by the idea of Rebecca, her husband’s late wife, who is said to be beautiful, charming, and perfect in every way. The narrator tries to emulate Rebecca, living in her shadow. We all know the name of Rebecca, who is brilliant, gorgeous, and dead, but the narrator of this story is unnamed.

The writing is gorgeous. I love the imagery, which conveys the setting and the feel of the scene so seamlessly. I love how we can follow the narrator’s train of thought easily, how we can understand each of her actions. So many quotable parts of this book: If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.”

An interesting plot twist towards the end of the novel. Initially I was not fond of the narrator’s reaction to this event, however, it seems like there is a deeper literary meaning to this as well.

Usually, I associate classics with being slow-paced and super long. However this one was quite easy to read! The beginning hooked me with the beautiful and lyrical writing style, and the second half kept me on the edge of my seat.

Underneath the story is a subtle discussion of the female gender role in marriage and in society. Despite this being an older novel, I was glad to see a strong female character who is fearless and independent (Rebecca herself).

What I Didn’t Like

The secondary characters are believable and human, however I don’t find them relatable, as much as I do our narrator.

The Bottom Line: 5/5

Rebecca is a classic for a good reason: The lyrical writing and suspenseful story-telling will keep you hooked from beginning to end.

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How do you feel about unreliable narrators? Which classic book(s) did you enjoy?

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Last but not least, be sure to join my giveaway before Sunday March 31st! I will announce the winner on April 2nd. Click here for more details!