Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Over. The. Top. That’s the best way to describe Kevin Kwan’s novel, Crazy Rich Asians. When I brought this one home from the library, the title was met by raised eyebrows from my family members. And no, the title is not some cutesy inside joke you’ll get once you read the book – it’s pretty literal.

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The novel went perfectly with my traveling color scheme, too 😉

The characters in Kwan’s novel are the antithesis of minimalists. The story follows a seemingly never-ending family tree that has three main branches: the Youngs, the T’Siens and the Shangs. When Nick Young decides to bring his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend, Rachel Chu, home to Singapore with him for the summer, chaos ensues.

You won’t get bored reading this one, as the perspective changes from character to character. You’ll laugh, gasp, and cringe at the riches and rituals that Rachel is thrown into. You’ll learn about all the idiosyncrasies of the family and their culture right alongside her.

I’m a little late on the Kevin Kwan train, as the novel became a bestseller back in 2013. Better late than never, though. It is certainly a colorful read! I can’t wait to read the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, next.

Have you read Crazy Rich Asians? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

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Book Review: Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper

Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper…by Hilary Liftin.61qLRcOOXGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

That’s a mouthful, huh? Upon further inspection you’ll realize that Lizzie Pepper is a fictional movie star, but the novel is written as a faux tell-all by the character. The cover jokes that the novel is “ghostwritten” by Liftin, but she is truly the only author.

I started the book when I needed a reprieve from the heaviness of the historical fiction I’d been reading. I expected it to be a typical, superficial beach read. And for the first half of the book, that seemed to ring true. Lizzie Pepper is a B-list movie star who somehow falls into the arms of Hollywood’s most sought-after A-lister, Rob Mars. Their whirlwind romance takes place on private islands and private jets.

In fact, I wasn’t planning on reviewing it at all, because it was one of those books that isn’t necessarily bad in that it kept my interest but it wasn’t exactly good, either. The writing seemed to skim the surface rather than delve into any of the characters or events at great length, and parts seemed quite redundant.

In the second half, though, I was majorly sucked in. The novel turned from a mindless romance to a pretty dark drama. It turns out that Mars is part of an exclusive Hollywood group that walks like a cult and talks like a cult, but denies that it is a cult. Scientology, anyone?! The organization is called “One Cell” and is known as a “Studio” as opposed to a church, but the author clearly took a page out of Leah Remini’s book. In fact, several things about Mars and Pepper seem kind of Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes-y.

As the novel progresses and Lizzie gets sucked into One Cell, she starts to realize that she may be in too deep. The ending was actually giving me anxiety as I read it because I felt like the Scientologists – uh, I mean One Cells – were watching me.

I don’t want to give any more away – I’ll let you read for yourself. But I will say that if you’re into celebrity romances with a creepy twist, this is the book for you. I know I am.

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

Wives Tales: Z and The Aviator’s Wife

Two of my most recent reads have been pieces of historical fiction from the perspective of the wives of acclaimed men: Z: a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler and The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin.

While neither is the kind of novel that will keep you awake at night from suspense, they both offer a rare glimpse into the lives of the women ‘behind’ two of America’s most famous – or shall I say infamous – men.

Although the works are largely fictional, both authors ensure that they completed endless amounts of research so that the facts are correct – it’s the emotional side that they embellish. It’s interesting to try to figure out which circumstances are imagined and which truly happened the way they are depicted in the novels. 41oJOkSuGzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I have always been intrigued by the excess of the 1920’s and beyond – the ‘jazz age,’ as F. Scott Fitzgerald coined it. Writers like Fitzgerald and Hemingway immortalized the time period through their novels, but we don’t often think much about their personal lives. Just like Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife did for Hadley, Ernest Hemingway’s wife, imagines what life would’ve been like behind the scenes for Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. The story reveals the demons that both Scott and Zelda battled throughout their lives together. A question is posed throughout the novel: did Zelda ruin Scott or save him?

Zelda reveals, “trouble has lots of forms. There’s financial trouble and marital trouble, there’s trouble with friends and trouble with landlords and trouble with liquor and trouble with the law. Every sort of trouble I can think of, we’ve tried it out – become expert at some of it, even, so much so that I’ve come to wonder whether artists in particular seek out hard times the way flowers turn their faces toward the sun.”

As can be said about a large portion of creative minds, Scott’s posthumous fame was preempted by years and years of struggle. Z leaves no dark stone unturned. Fitzgerald “had spent his life building what he’d seen as an impressive tower of stone and brick, and woken up to find it was only a little house of cards, sent tumbling now by the wind.”

I read The Aviator’s Wife because of how much I had enjoyed The Paris Wife a few years back. While the two are written by different authors, the novels are written in the same vein. The Aviator’s Wife follows the relationship of legendary American pilot Charles Lindbergh51faRUlBSGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh. While I knew who Charles was and I knew something had happened to their son, that was about the extent of my knowledge prior to reading this book. Just like the aforementioned novels, this one reveals the darker, more personal side of the so-called American hero’s life and marriage.

Anne’s mother warns her daughter in the novel: “You need to stop looking for heroes, Anne. Only the weak need heroes… and heroes need those around them to remain weak.” Anne herself discovers that “marriage breeds its own special brand of loneliness” and cruelty, especially when that marriage is to an American hero.

Now that I’ve essentially written a novel of my own, go pick up these two eye-opening books. Authors Fowler and Benjamin gave these strong women voices where they had none – and that is a beautiful thing.

Colorfully Yours,

Haley

Book Review: Young Money

I am SO behind on my book reviews. I’m sure you’ve all been living blissfully without them, but as a serious bookworm, I’m feeling pretty uneasy about it. I hate to write a review so long after I read a book because the details aren’t as fresh in my mind, but sometimes life gets in the way. And the benefit for you guys is that if my memory is a bit hazy, I’m much less likely to reveal any spoilers! 😉

ym_rgSo without further ado, I’m here to review Kevin Roose’s Young Money. For some reason or other, I find the world of Wall Street extremely interesting. As an English major with a deep hatred for the finance classes I took in college, this may seem a little odd. But I think it’s precisely that other worldly quality that intrigues me about the financial industry. You could say that the fashion and editorial industries are both extremely cutthroat. At the end of the day, though, you don’t often hear about interns dying on the job.

Yeah. Two Wall Street interns in the last few years died from being stressed, overworked and sleep deprived. A few months back, I found myself researching the story of one of these young men, which led me to Young Money. Roose follows eight recent college graduates as they enter the world of Wall Street. He has to use made up names to protect their identities. That’s usually a scary sign, in my book.

You won’t find the cocaine-snorting, stripper-hiring debauchery of The Wolf of Wall Street. What you will hear about is the insane amounts of money these young professionals are making so soon out of college – and at what cost. These young men and women lose more than just sleep. You’ll hear about their crumbling relationships with their friends and loved ones… but also with themselves.

If you’re looking for a raunchy, wild read, this isn’t it. But if you’re interested in a real-life glimpse of the intensity of investment banking in New York City, give it a read. And if you’re questioning your own career path, this should make you feel a bit better.

Wishing you happy (and eye-opening) reading, peeps.

Colorfully Yours,

Haley