Quote of the Week

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

~Thomas Merton

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Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

genghiskhanMost of us have heard about Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire. More often, he and his people are regarded as brute, ruthless and hostile. Almost always in a negative setting. Nevertheless, his and the empire’s story is captivating and needs to be told.

In this book, the author, Jack Weatherford tells us the story of Genghis Khan and his empire and how it shaped the beginning of the modern world. Weatherford asks us to reconsider our view of this great leader and his descendants.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World starts in detailing the early life of Genghis Khan, who was brought into the world in the steppe between Mongolia and Siberia. He was named Temujin by his father which means “of iron” or “blacksmith.” It was in year 1206 (if I remember it right) that he became the leader of the great Mongol nation and was then named Genghis Khan. The information on his early life was based on a document discovered called The Secret History of the Mongols. He did not have an easy childhood. He was confronted with many difficulties as a child. He didn’t have a formal education but he knew tradition and he knew that he lives in a dangerous world. His father was murdered and their family was cast out of the clan and so they were forced to live and survive on their own. He was also kidnapped and was forced to be a slave and this started his determination to seek revenge on every tribe that made his life difficult as a child.

The book focused more on the classic Mongol era — the period from Genghis Khan to Khubilai Khan. The stream of details will truly captivate the reader. And well, yes, Genghis Khan and his armies killed many people, sure, but warfare was important in creating the Mongol empire. Through his organized warfare, he unites everyone in every place he conquers regardless of their race and religion. Warfare and uniting the people were big steps that contributed to the foundation of the modern world and Genghis Khan made many laws. Genghis Khan is an extremely reformist leader. He made sure of everyone’s fundamental freedoms, everyone including women. He also advocated for human rights and education.

Genghis Khan and the other rulers of the Mongol empire practiced universalism. Since they didn’t have their own system to impose on their people, they were open to combine systems from the different places they have conquered. They looked and tried for what worked best for the empire. It is also notable that one of the best achievement of the Mongols was their great ability to blend with different local cultures thus giving the empire’s rule an exceptional degree of stability.

In the end, though, the empire was defeated by an unexpected enemy which was the plague. It spread like wildfire. Millions of people died. Eventually the empire started to fall and left divided into smaller kingdoms. Consequently, there came a growing anti-Asian attitude specially focused on the Mongols.

I enjoyed reading this book and hope to read more about Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire. Genghis Khan rocks!

Quotable Quotes:

“Genghis Khan recognized that warfare was not a sporting contest or a mere match between rivals; it was a total commitment of one people against another. Victory did not come to the one who played by the rules; it came to the one who made the rules and imposed them on his enemy.”

“Without the vision of a goal, a man cannot manage his own life, much less the lives of others.”

” …there is no good in anything until it is finished…”

Rating: 4/5 stars

WWW Wednesday 07-Apr-2021

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

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As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

Currently Reading

giovannisroom

Reading Next

How was your reading week? Any new favorites? Feel free to share! 🙂

Top 5 Tuesday – Books You Wish You Could Read for the First Time Again

Happy Tuesday, Homo sapiens! Welcome to another Top 5 Tuesday!

Top 5 Tuesday was originally hosted by Shanah at Bionic Bookworm and now found its home with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

Books You Wish You Could Read for the First Time Again

thekiterunner

I still remember the very first time I’ve read The Kite Runner, the tear-jerking moments, the eagerness to know what is going to happen next and Hassan! Oh, my dear Hassan! 

amancalledove

A Man Called Ove is a casual mix of tragedy and comedy. I loved the rawness of Ove’s character and the story altogether.

agameofthrones

A Game of Thrones is a book where I stopped liking the characters because if I do, they’d get killed next! Haha! I loved the book so much and the characters, too!

gonegirlGone Girl is just the perfect example of a deliciously twisted thriller!

norwegianwood

Norwegian Wood introduced me to Murakami who is now one of my favorite authors. This book also started my love affair with Japanese literature.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

thesecretlivesofbabasegiswivesThe Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s wives, as the title implies, is the story of Baba Segi’s four wives. Baba Segi is a wealthy businessman from Nigeria. He strongly believes that the number of wives and children (sons most specially) a man has is the measure of real manhood. You’d laugh at how obsessed Baba Segi was in planting his seeds to his wives. Ha!

Baba Segi’s wives all live with shocking secrets. I will not spoil them for you, of course, but let me introduce the four wives. The first wife is Iya Segi. Being the first wife, she is the queen. She loves money and that makes her an accomplished businesswoman. The second wife is Iya Tope. She’s quiet and dismissive, she doesn’t mind Iya Segi calling the shots at home. She’s just happy taking care of her daughters. Iya Femi is the third wife and though I don’t like her, I find her character very interesting. She loves plotting revenge on people, she enjoys it and she’s happy when people are miserable. Then comes Bolanle, the fourth wife, the only educated wife of Baba Segi. The youngest and somehow Baba Segi’s favorite until it turns out that she’s barren. Baba Segi turned against her until the secrets started to come out. It wasn’t really surprising anymore if you’ve focused on the wives’ stories but I could imagine how each revelation was so shocking and painful for Baba Segi.

This book gives us a good view of life in Nigeria specially for women. Women who may be different from many of us and the life we’re living but they are also humans who have wishes and dreams, big and small. It’s saddening to read about the polygamous kind of marriage that exists there and the role of women as wives most specially their “obligation” to conceive a male heir. And if you can’t, you’re good for nothing.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is a wonderful book. There’s a roller-coaster of emotions while I was reading it. It’s beautifully-written and the characters were well-drawn. Lola Shoneyin did a good job in engaging and captivating the readers.

Quotable Quotes:

“The choices we have to make in this world are hard are bitter. Sometimes we have no choices at all.”

“Men are nothing. They are fools. The penis between their legs is all they are useful for. And even then, if not that women needed their seed for children, it would be better to sit on a finger of green plantain. Listen to my words. Only a foolish woman leans heavily on a man’s promises.”

“A real woman must always do the things she wants to do, and in her own time too. You must never allow yourself to be rushed into doing things you’re not ready for.”

“Don’t think I can’t see the challenges ahead of me. People will say I am a secondhand woman. Men will hurt and ridicule me but I won’t let them hold me back. I will remain in the land of the living. I am back now and the world is spread before me like an egg cracked open.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

Quote of the Week

But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.

~Haruki Murakami

March 2021 Reading Wrap-Up

Hi there, Homo sapiens! I hope March had been a wonderful reading month for you! March had been a busy month at work for me, I feel kind of drained now but I’m still very happy that I’ve managed to read 8 books somehow. 🙂

Here are the books I’ve read for the month of March…

5-Stars

4-Stars

3-Stars

That’s my March wrap-up, moving on to April! Happy reading!

WWW Wednesday 31-Mar-2021

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

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As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

homegoing

Currently Reading

Reading Next

thestoryofthejews

What books have you read this week? Discovered new favorites?  Feel free to share!

Quote of the Week

To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.

~Elizabeth Gilbert

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

shuggiebainThe story is set during the Thatcher-era in Glasgow, Scotland. A time where men are almost out of work and single mothers try to keep their families together. Agnes Bain marries for the second time and she sinks deeper and deeper into alcoholism. Shuggie is the only child from this second union and he loves and adores his mother so much and he tries his best to protect and save her from herself. Shuggie had a difficult childhood but his love for his mother never ever falters. He has a philandering father and a sister and a brother from his mother’s first marriage. They lived a poor life relying on government aid and sometimes stealing money from coin boxes to use electricity. Moreover, Shuggie is not like the other boys in their neighborhood, he tends to act more like a girl and this caused him unwanted attention and bullying. It’s heartbreaking reading about him growing up with this sense of being different while being humiliated and hurt by the people around him.

Shuggie Bain tackled many themes: love between mother and child, poverty, resilience, addiction, alcoholism, sexuality, devotion, struggle, hope. This is not an easy read and the story was paced rather slow. It’s heart-wrenching but it shows the power of human spirit. It’s miserable but there is always that hope, no matter how tiny, that it will somehow get better.

Highly-deserved winner of the Booker Prize.

Quotable Quotes:

“Sometimes you don’t even want a thing. You just can’t
bear anyone else to have it.”

“Flames are not just the end, they are also the beginning. For everything that you have destroyed can be rebuilt. From your own ashes you can grow again.”

“Rain was a natural state of Glasgow. It kept the grass green and the people pale and bronchial.”

“My mother has never worked a day in her life. She’s far too good-looking for that.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

WWW Wednesday 24-Mar-2021

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

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As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

Currently Reading

homegoing

Reading Next

How was your reading week? Any new favorites? Feel free to share!

Top 5 Tuesdays – Middle Grade Books

Happy Tuesday, Homo sapiens! Welcome to another Top 5 Tuesday!

Top 5 Tuesday was originally hosted by Shanah at Bionic Bookworm and now found its home with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

Middle Grade Books

These are the top five middle grade books for me. Not sure if they count as middle grade, haha, but I believe they’re very suitable for children aged 8-12 years old.

What are your top middle grade reads? Do we have a book in common? Feel free to share. 🙂

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

kirakiraKira-Kira means glittering. Katie’s sister, Lynn, taught her this. Katie adores and loves her sister too much. As sisters, they mostly do everything together. Lynn taught Katie mostly everything. Katie wants to be like Lynn. From Iowa, they moved to Georgia for a better life. The story took place in the 1950’s and at that time, the people in Iowa were not very friendly to them. Lynn got sick and their family is faced with many roadblocks. Life seemed not very glittering anymore.

The book was narrated in a very gentle way by Katie as a child with a child’s understanding of things. Though the story dealt with difficult topics like death and racism, it was still easy to read even for children.

Kira-Kira is a powerful and engaging read. It has its moments of happiness and moments of ultimate sadness. The ending was quite sad but the lessons learned while reading were all worth the read.

Quotable Quotes:

“My sister had taught me to look at the world that way, as a place that glitters, as a place where the calls of the crickets and the crows and the wind are everyday occurrences that also happen to be magic.”

“Some days I think she was really miserable, because she cried a lot. In a way, I’d had to steel my heart to her crying. You need to steel yourself to a lot of things when someone in your family is really sick.”

“The blue of the sky is one of the most special colors in the world, because the color is deep but see-through both at the same time.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

Quote of the Week

You know how they say you only hurt the ones you love? Well, it works both ways.

~Chuck Palahniuk

WWW Wednesday 17-Mar-2020

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

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As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

mysistertheserialkiller

This was a quick, amusing read. I finished it in one sitting. 3-stars.

Currently Reading

genghiskhan

I’m close to finishing this book and I am really liking it. 

Reading Next

I was meaning to read Home Going for quite some time now so I hope to get started soon as well as Before We Were Yours.

How was your reading week? Any new favorites? Feel free to share!

Top 5 Tuesday – Books That Got Me Into Reading

Happy Tuesday, Homo sapiens! Welcome to another Top 5 Tuesday!

Top 5 Tuesday was originally hosted by Shanah at Bionic Bookworm and now found its home with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

Books That Got Me Into Reading

aliceinwonderlandI was exposed to reading at a very early age but as far as I can remember, one of the books that really got me into reading as a child was Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland.

It was my older brother who introduced these two books to me when I was maybe 12 or 13 years old. And I just love both of these! These made me seek for more adventures and books that I can relate to.

norwegianwood

Norwegian Wood started my love affair with Japanese literature.

thekiterunner

The Kite Runner touched me to the core unlike any other and so this book got me into reading all the more.

How about you? What books got you into reading? I’d be delighted to know! 

Quote of the Week

Make sure, as often as possible, you are doing something you’d be happy to die doing.

~Matt Haig

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

themidnightlibraryThe Midnight Library centers around a thirty-five-year-old woman, Nora Seed, who has been living her life in despair and regret. She lost her will to live. She doesn’t talk to her father, brother and friend. Her mom died two years ago and she was suffering from depression since then. She lost her job and her cat died. She felt like a mess, she felt useless. She thinks she just disappoints everyone and so no one wants needs her. She’s having a very difficult time and so she decided to kill herself. Just a few moments before she’d kill herself, she finds herself transported in the Midnight Library. Here in this library, she met Mrs. Elm, her old school librarian, who explained to her everything she needs to know about how things work and why she’s there. She said the Midnight Library is a place between heaven and hell, a place where she has a chance to change her circumstances, a chance to make things right. So, will Nora take the chance?

I decided to read this book because it won Best Fiction in Goodreads but I was not very happy about it. I never felt connected to Nora Seed or her troubles at all. I was annoyed by her all through out. I didn’t feel engaged or captivated in anything that’s happening in the story. I wasn’t moved. The idea of the Midnight Library was quite interesting but the ending was predictable early on which makes the story not so interesting anymore. I almost gave up halfway through it. I’m just glad that the second half of the book was better than the first. And luckily the book was short.

I must say I felt dissatisfied with this one maybe because I was expecting something deeper. I expected to feel more but didn’t. However, I did very much like the lessons from this book. These lessons would be enough takeaway but I think I’d avoid over-hyped books for a while.

Quotable Quotes:

“In chess, as in life, possibility is the basis of everything. Every hope, every dream, every regret, every moment of living.”

“Never underestimate the big importance of small things.”

“You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it.”

“She realised that you could be as honest as possible in life,
but people only see the truth if it is close enough to their
reality.”

“The only way to learn is to live.”

Rating: 2.5 stars

WWW Wednesday 10-Mar-2021

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

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As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

Currently Reading

genghiskhan

Reading Next

How was your reading week? Have you read any of these books? Feel free to share!

Happy reading and keep safe, Homo sapiens!

Top 5 Tuesday – Books I Wish I Had Read When I Was Younger

Happy Tuesday, Homo sapiens! Welcome to another Top 5 Tuesday!

Top 5 Tuesday was originally hosted by Shanah at Bionic Bookworm and now found its home with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

Books I Wish I Had Read When I Was Younger

I think you would understand why I wish I had read these books when I was younger from titles alone. 🙂

How about you? What books did you wish you’ve read sooner or when you were younger? Feel free to share!

Quote of the Week

“It’s true: lives do drift apart for no obvious reason. We’re all busy people,we can’t spend our time simply trying to stay in touch. The test of a friendship is if it can weather these inevitable gaps.”

~William Boyd

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

theextraordinarylifeofsamhellThe Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell is a very touching, very engaging, coming-of-age story of a boy named Sam Hill who faced adversity all his life because he was born with ocular albinism which gave him red eyes. He was bullied and called Sam Hell or devil boy. Though he was bullied in school, he was very much protected by his mother, raised to be a real man by his father and was very much loved by his few friends.

Sam grew up from a religious family and he wanted to believe what his mom always tells him — that God made him extraordinary. He struggled to overcome his fears and the obstacles that come his way and he started questioning his faith.

The chapters were short and easy to read. The characters were remarkable. Sam’s mother was a very note-worthy character, a very important woman in his life. His father was the same. The friendships were also endearing, it would be very nice to have friends like them.

I absolutely loved this book. It was incredible. I can’t recommend it enough. This is my first Robert Dugoni experience and it certainly won’t be the last.

Quotable Quotes:

“There comes a day in every man’s life when he stops looking forward and starts looking back.”

“But to my mother—I suspect to all mothers—their little boys will always be their little boys, no matter how old those boys become.”

“Our skin, our hair, and our eyes are simply the shell that surrounds our soul, and our soul is who we are. What counts is on the inside.”

“We realize it is in those quiet moments that each of us has the ability to make our lives extraordinary.”

“Time is wicked. It comes and goes like a thief in the night, stealing our youth, our beauty, and our bodies.”

Rating: 5/5 stars

WWW Wednesday 03-Mar-2021

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

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As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

Currently Reading

threeapplesfellfromthesky

Reading Next

How was your reading week? Have you read any of these books? Thoughts? Feel free to share!

Happy reading and keep safe, Homo sapiens!

February 2021 Reading Wrap-Up

Hello there, Homo sapiens! Love month is over… how time flies! Today I’m sharing with you the books I’ve read in February.

5-Stars

salttothesea

4-Stars

3-Stars

thesunalsorises

How was your February reading? Did you read any good ones? Any new favorites? I’d be delighted to know so feel free to share!

Top 5 Tuesday – Books From My Childhood

Happy Tuesday, Homo sapiens! It’s March and here’s my first Top 5 Tuesday of the month!

Top 5 Tuesday was originally hosted by Shanah at Bionic Bookworm and now found its home with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

Today I’m sharing five of my favorite reads during my childhood. There were a lot of books I enjoyed reading as a child but these five books are some that I can turn back to again and again and again.

Books From My Childhood

What’s your favorite childhood read? Feel free to share!

Quote of the Week

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.

~Truman Capote

The Push by Ashley Audrain

thepushThe Push centers on Blythe Connor, the narrator, as she recounts to her husband the events that broke their marriage and their family. The book also jumps to the past to show Blythe’s difficult childhood which helps us realize how much impact it had on her. She grew up not knowing the warmth of a mother’s love. Every now and then, we get flashbacks of her mother and grandmother, both suffering from mental illness and trauma.

When she first got pregnant, she was afraid at first but she vowed to become a better mother to her child and to not be like her mother/grandmother to her. However, she struggled to connect with her daughter, Violet. As she grows up, their relationship turned from bad to worse. Several incidents happened and she started to question herself whether all these are just inside her head. She was later convinced that there is something wrong with her daughter, something evil. Sadly, her husband didn’t believe her.

She later on got pregnant with her second child, Sam, where she finally felt the connection between mother and child. She was happy and content as a mother. However, she continued to struggle with Violet and she fears for Sam’s safety with Violet around.

This was a short, easy and interesting book which showed the darker side of motherhood. I was hooked from page one and I would’ve finished it in one sitting if not for work that needs to be done urgently. I loved the short, snappy chapters which helped make the story flow well and easy to read but will leave you feeling too much emotion as you read. Gripping and suspenseful.

Quotable Quotes:

“Marriages can float apart. Sometimes we don’t notice how far we’ve gone until all of a sudden, the water meets the horizon and it feels like we’ll never make it back.”

“A mother’s heart breaks a million ways in her lifetime.”

“We could have counted our problems on the petals of the daisy in my bouquet, but it wouldn’t be long before we were lost in a field of them.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

WWW Wednesday 24-Feb-2021

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

img_1384-0

As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

Currently Reading

salttothesea

Reading Next

Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading this past week? I’d be delighted if you share your WWWs, too. Leave a link or share your lists on the comments section so I can check them all out!

Happy reading and keep safe, Homo sapiens!

Top 5 Tuesday – Authors I Want to Try

Happy Tuesday, Homo sapiens! It’s time for the last Top 5 Tuesday of February!

Top 5 Tuesday was originally hosted by Shanah at Bionic Bookworm and now found its home with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

Authors I Want to Try

Toni Morrison

tonimorrison

Salman Rushdie

salmanrushdie

Joe Hill

joehill

Kristin Hannah

kristinhannah

Ta-Nehisi Coates

tanehisicoates

Have you read any from these authors books? Which ones did you like? Any recommendations? And how about you? Who are some authors you haven’t read any book from yet? I’d be delightful to know so feel free to share.

Happy Tuesday!

Quote of the Week

Life consists of two days, one for you one against you. So when it’s for you don’t be proud or reckless, and when it’s against you be patient, for both days are test for you.

~Hazrat Ali Ibn Abu-Talib A.S

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

If you’ve never read a William Boyd novel, this is a good one to start with.

anyhumanheart

Any Human Heart is a fictionalized journal of a fictional character, Logan Mountstuart. It is a story of a life well-lived and a journey deep into a very human heart. The book is easy to read, the chapters weren’t too long, it is powerful, realistic and a beautiful story.  Logan is generous, smart, naïve and selfish which makes him so real and interesting. And like any human journeys, his life has its own ups and downs, accidents, coincidences, tragedies and triumphs.

Aging is also addressed in this book in which there are moments where it is absolutely depressing, you see Logan at his worst. But there are also moments where you’ll see how aging made him wiser. He was never envious of youth.

William Boyd was able to make it like everything is true and that it is indeed from a dead man’s journal. I don’t know if others will agree but this is such an amazing novel where it’s hard to believe that Logan Mountstuart never existed.

And in the end, we get to ask ourselves, “What defines success?” “What is a life well-lived?” Logan reassures us that, “Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary – it is the respective proportion of those two categories that make that life appear interesting or humdrum.”

Quotable Quotes:

“I have to start my real life soon, before I die of boredom and frustration.”

“It’s true: lives do drift apart for no obvious reason. We’re all busy people,we can’t spend our time simply trying to stay in touch. The test of a friendship is if it can weather these inevitable gaps.”

“I felt shocked and then saddened. life does this to you sometimes – leads you up a path and then drops you in the shit, to mix a metaphor.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

WWW Wednesday 17-Feb-2021

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

img_1384-0

As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

Currently Reading

thesunalsorises

Reading Next

Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading this past week? I’d be delighted if you share your WWWs, too. Leave a link or share your lists on the comments section so I can check them all out!

Happy reading and keep safe, Homo sapiens!

Quote of the Week

Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.

~Margaret Atwood

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Have You Seen Luis Velez? is my first book from Catherine Ryan Hyde. I don’t remember how I first came across this book and I’m very happy I did.

haveyouseenluisvelez

We meet Raymond, a sixteen-year-old high school student. He feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere. Not in his father’s home with his new wife. Not in his mother’s new family. Not even in school. When his best friend moved away, his only friends were a stray cat and a ninety-two year old blind woman whom he met when she inquired if he happened to see Luis Velez.

Have You Seen Luis Velez? is a wonderful story of life, friendship, loss, acceptance and kindness. I very much loved the idea of the connection created between two unlikely people who found common ground, the friendship formed beyond their differences. It was nice to see the mutual respect and love for each other. It’s endearing to read how they learn from each other, help each other find peace of mind, peace for their past, accept life and face the challenges and possibilities ahead.

Raymond’s search for Luis Velez gave him an opportunity to meet people of all sorts and helped him be aware of a wider world, the real world. Raymond is a character you can’t help but love. He’s endearing and I admire his compassion. He also starved for affection. That’s why I felt so happy when he became friends with Millie, the ninety-two year old woman, because he finally had someone to confide to.

The simplicity of this book makes it so powerful. It deals with the issues our society is facing these days — racism, prejudice, sexuality, gun violence and the importance of a society that support each other.

If you want to read something to uplift your spirit and help you reflect on life or the role you play in it, this is a great read. It’s actually a story for everyone. 

Quotable Quotes:

“People laugh at things they don’t understand. It makes them feel safe. But it’s a false feeling. They are no safer. They just feel as if they are. The world is full of people too foolish to judge the difference.”

“Life gives us nothing outright. It only lends. Nothing is ours to keep.”

“Living long is a gift denied to many, and so it comes with a responsibility to make the most of it. At very least to appreciate it. People gripe about growing older—their aches and pains, how much harder everything is—as if they had forgotten that the alternative is dying young.”

“The world is a tough place, my friend. I’m not ready to change my mind about that. And yet we’re called upon to be grateful that we’re in it. That seems to be our challenge.”

“Never be afraid to look, Raymond. It’s always better to look. Whatever you’re afraid of, turn toward it, not away. Once you’re willing to do that, it loses all its power over you. Trust me. I know this. I don’t always do it. But I really, truly know.”

Rating: 5/5 stars

WWW Wednesday 10-Feb-2021

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

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As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

Currently Reading

shuggiebain

Next Reads

At the moment, I haven’t decided yet what to read next. Actually, I might take a break from reading, maybe for a week or two. Why? I dunno. I just feel I have to but we’ll see.

Anyways, happy reading and keep safe, Homo sapiens!

Top 5 Tuesday – Series I Want to Start

Happy Tuesday, Homo sapiens! It’s time for another Top 5 Tuesday!

Top 5 Tuesday was originally hosted by Shanah at Bionic Bookworm and now found its home with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

Series I Want to Start

I’m not very fond of series. I’m a bit dismissive about it. Why? First and foremost, I’m impatient. Second, I hate too much or too little backstories. Third, I, well, forget several details from the previous books. This is why I have only read a very few series like A Song of Ice & Fire and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (does that count?).

However, this year, I hope to at least start with one of the the following series:

1. Earth’s Children by Jean M. Auel

2. Time Quintet by Madeleine L’engle

3. War of the Roses by Conn Iggulden

4. The Sea of Fertility by Yukio Mishima

5. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Have you read any of these series? What do you think about them? Or any recommendations? What series do you want to start this year? I’d be glad to know.

Happy reading!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The-Seven-Husbands-of-Evelyn-HugoI was intrigued when I first saw this book and I read it without any other information except that it’s about Evelyn Hugo, a Hollywood star, married seven times. But after reading it, there was so much more about Evelyn Hugo.

The author introduces to us the aging Evelyn Hugo who is now finally ready to tell the truth about her life, if and only if, the unknown reporter named Monique from Vivant will write her story. Everyone was baffled, why Monique? Why tell her story just now?

Evelyn and Monique soon started working with her story. Evelyn started from nothing but clawed her way to the top of Hollywood along with her seven marriages. As she tells her story, each of the marriages were discussed where we gradually understand Evelyn more. I think she is one of the most iconic characters I have read about. Sometimes I forget she’s fictional. Her story shows the struggle of women way back in the 1950s-1960s though they seem to appear like they’re the ones calling the shots. How sexual preferences wasn’t as open as it is now, how some are looked down upon. It also tells about how it was like then for a woman from a mixed race living in a white woman’s world. Layers upon layers of information were revealed in every chapter, it’s just incredible. Moreover, Monique’s story was a great addition in between Evelyn’s Hollywood drama.

This is my first read from Taylor Jenkins Reid. I wanted to read Daisy Jones and The Six last year but still haven’t gotten into it yet but now that I’ve had my first Reid experience, I am surely going to read it soon. Her writing is beautiful, I liked it a lot. She truly gave life to Evelyn Hugo’s character. She’s actually very good in characterization. All the other characters were also notable.

Read this if you haven’t yet.

Quotable Quotes:

“I’m under absolutely no obligation to make sense to you.”

“Never let anyone make you feel ordinary.”

“Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box. Don’t do that.”

“Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you. Other times reality simply waits, patiently, for you to run out of the energy it takes to deny it.”

“People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’- that’s intimacy.”

Rating: 5/5 stars

Quote of the Week

I keep telling you the future isn’t set in stone. It’s not all decided yet. The future is just what’s down the road we decided to walk on today. You can change roads anytime. And that changes where you end up.

~Catherine Ryan Hyde

WWW Wednesday 03-Feb-2021

Welcome to this month’s first WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

As usual, I wasn’t able to read according to what I’ve planned and it was somehow a slow reading week. Anyhow, let’s get started, shall we?

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As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

numberthestars

Number the Stars was a quick read, I’ve finished it in one sitting. 4-stars.

Currently Reading

I’ve made very little progress with Shuggie Bain and The Thing Around Your Neck. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to read during the rest of the week.

Reading Next

Last week, I’ve included The Song of Achilles for my next read, however, I’ve decided to read it sometime in the middle of the year. So I hope I can start with The Memory Police and The Push this weekend.

Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading this past week? I’d be delighted if you share your WWWs, too. Leave a link or share your lists on the comments section so I can check them all out!

Happy reading and keep safe, Homo sapiens!

January 2021 Reading Wrap-Up

So… we made it through the first month of 2021! That was fast!

I had a good reading month and I am delighted to share that I finished 8 books in January.

5-Stars

4-Stars

theotherhalfofaugustahope

3-Stars

themidnightlibrary

2-Stars

earthlings

How was your January? Did you read any good ones? Any new favorites? I’d be delighted to know so feel free to share!

Top 5 Tuesday – Books I Meant to Read in 2020

Happy Tuesday, Homo sapiens! It’s time for another Top 5 Tuesday!

Top 5 Tuesday was originally hosted by Shanah at Bionic Bookworm and now found its home with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

I’ve had several books I meant to read in 2020 but somehow didn’t get the chance to get to them yet. Hopefully, I can read them all this year. In the meantime, here are five of them:

Books I Meant to Read in 2020

How about you? What books did you mean to read in 2020 but still hadn’t gotten into? Feel free to share in the comments section or drop a link of your post so I can read them all!

Happy reading!

Quote of the Week

Keep your mind open. The meaning of things lies in how people perceive them. The same thing could mean different meanings to the same people at different times.

~Roy T. Bennett

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

themountainssingThe Mountains Sing is a bittersweet family saga of the Tran family in north Vietnam. Alternating between Huong and her grandmother, Dieu Lan’s, perspectives, we follow some notable moments in Vietnam’s history as well as the outcome and effect to the people living there at that time. Dieu Lan and her family were victims of the Land reform in the north. They lost everything when the communist government came to power and were forced to flee. They soon settled and started a new life in Hanoi. Fifty years later, Vietnam is at war again. Huong grieves for the loss of her parents.

I liked the characters in this book, the different journeys, trials and hardships they each had to face and the emphasis on how important family is. Dieu Lan is my new favorite character. I loved her. I loved how resilient and resolute she was despite the horrible choices she had to make in order for her and her children to survive. Oh, the love of a mother!

I loved Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s writing. It felt very personal while reading. It felt like Dieu Lan and Huong were speaking to me directly. It made me feel the pain, how unbearable the situation was during the war, how injustice affected a lot of people, but they tried their best to live, to keep on going.

This is a family saga filled with heartbreak and tragedy. But it is also full of hope and love. It’s the kind of book that can make you feel.

Highly recommended.

Quotable Quotes:

“I realized that war was monstrous. If it didn’t kill those it touched, it took away a piece of their souls, so they could never be whole again.”

“Whenever humans failed us, it was nature who could help save us.”

“The more I read, the more I became afraid of wars. Wars have the power to turn graceful and cultured people into monsters.”

“Human lives were short and fragile. Time and illnesses consumed us, like flames burning away these pieces of wood. But it didn’t matter how long or short we lived. It mattered more how much light we were able to shed on those we loved and how many people we touched with our compassion.”

“The challenges faced by Vietnamese people are as tall as the tallest mountains. If you stand too close, you won’t be able to see their peaks. Once you step away from the currents of life, you will have the full view.”

Rating: 5/5 stars

WWW Wednesday 27-Jan-2021

Welcome to this month’s final WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

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As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

Currently Reading

shuggiebain

Up Next

Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading this past week? I’d be delighted if you share your WWWs, too. Leave a link or share your lists on the comments section so I can check them all out!

Happy reading and keep safe, Homo sapiens!

Quote of the Week

Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.

~W.P. Kinsella

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

thebookoflostnamesThe Book of Lost Names is the story of Eva Traube, a young woman born in France whose parents are Polish Jews, working her way to become a librarian. The Nazis soon began mass arrests and one day, her father was captured while she and her mother were babysitting for the neighbor. She soon found her self forging documents for her and her mother in order to flee to the free zone of France. Upon arriving in a small town of Aurignon in the free zone, she learned of the underground resistance movement and later found herself forging documents for Jewish children, in order to escape to Switzerland.

Eva soon became increasingly important for the underground resistance movement and her relationships to the people around her became complex and tricky. Her views of the world changed and there came difficult decisions along the way. Eva and Remy had decided to keep a record of the children’s real names for them to remember later on who they really are, a secret between them, The Book of Lost Names. Then the resistance movement was betrayed and Remy also disappeared.

Many years later, Eva saw the very same book where she and Remy kept a record of the names of the children they helped to escape. She was then faced with a choice to just continue with her new life or to revisit her past.

The Book of Lost Names is a very interesting and captivating read full of historically accurate details. I love that I am continually learning more, the round-ups in Paris, the quaint little town in a considered free zone in France, the forgery and the children’s escape to Switzerland to name a few.

This is a story of courage, bravery, survival, endurance, the significance of forgery at that time, patience, loss, trust. It is wonderfully written and a page-turner. Well-researched. Great twists. Well-rounded characters. I have read a lot of books set in WWII and as with all war-set stories, I fear for most of the characters’ lives. With each book, a simple knock on the door makes your adrenaline rise. This is no different. I feared for Eva, for Remy, for Pere Clement and for nearly all the characters.

I loved this book and plan to read more from Kristin Harmel. Highly recommended.

Quotable Quotes:

“Reuniting a book with its rightful owner can be magical.”

“My point is that every parent wants what is best for his or her child. But we are all guilty of seeing things through our own lens.”

“Once you’ve fallen in love with books, their presence can make you feel at home anywhere, even in places where you shouldn’t belong.”

Rating: 5/5 stars

WWW Wednesday 20-Jan-2021

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words.

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As usual, just answer the three W questions:

  1. What did you recently finish reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Recently Finished

These three books were all page-turners and I’m giving all three 5-star ratings!

Currently Reading

themidnightlibrary

I am not liking this as much as I expect to like it. Should I go on or not? Any thoughts?

Up Next

I’m so excited to start with Shuggie Bain and The Prisoner of Heaven. I think both will be 5-star reads!

Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading this past week? I’d be delighted if you share your WWWs, too. Leave a link or share your lists on the comments section so I can check them all out!

Happy reading and keep safe, Homo sapiens!

Top 5 Tuesday – Books I Will Definitely Read This Year

Happy Tuesday, Homo sapiens! It’s time for another Top 5 Tuesday!

Top 5 Tuesday was originally hosted by Shanah at Bionic Bookworm and now found its home with Meeghan at Meeghan Reads.

Books I Will Definitely Read This Year

How about you? What books do you surely intend to read this year? Feel free to share in the comments section or drop a link of your post so I can read them all!

Happy reading!

Quote of the Week

Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.

~Edward Abbey

In Order to Live by Yeon-Mi Park

inordertolive

I have always been curious about North Korea, its people, their way of living, the autocratic Kim regime. I have read a few books/articles and it just increased my curiosity all the more. I am currently working in a South Korean company for almost 10 years now since I came here but North Korea is a very rare topic discussed among my colleagues.

In Order to Live is the memoir of Yeonmi Park as she and her mother escape North Korea in search of a better life. She tells of her family’s story as a child, the kind of life they lead, as well as the dictatorship in North Korea.

The book is divided into three parts: her life in North Korea, then in China and finally in South Korea.

Yeon-Mi mentioned the time after Russia and China put an end to their support for NK which greatly affected NK’s economy. Her father soon found himself selling whatever smuggled items he has in the black market. She also mentioned about songbun, the class groupings enforced by the NK government. Ms. Park’s paternal family used to belong to the “core” class, the highest class grouping, until one of her uncles was accused of raping a student where he was teaching. Since then, all related families were declassed to the lowest songbun.

About halfway through the book, their family’s focus was on China. As the days passed, it has became apparent that there is no future for their family in NK. It wasn’t easy to find a smuggler who will bring them to the NK-China border but as soon they found one, Ms. Park’s sister left first with her friend but gone missing. Ms. Park and her mother followed next leaving her father behind in hopes to find her sister and come back for her father after. Unfortunately, China, as they came to know, was a horrible place, too. They ended up in the nastiness of human trafficking, her mother was even raped in front of her.

Ms. Park and her mother eventually left China through Mongolia with the help of Christian missionaries. The rest of the book talked about the NIS and the Hanawon screening processes and how she and her mother adjusted to life in South Korea.

The writing wasn’t particularly beautiful but that’s okay. Let it not stop you from reading Ms. Park’s story. I encourage you to read this remarkable book and educate yourself through this eye-opening, although shattering, important story.

Quotable Quotes:

“We all have our own deserts. They may not be the same as my desert, but we all have to cross them to find a purpose in life and be free.”

“It amazed me how quickly a lie loses its power in the face of truth.”

“I inhaled books like other people breathe oxygen. I didn’t just read for knowledge or pleasure, I read to live.”

Rating: 4/5 stars