A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

adogspurposeA Dog’s Purpose is one dog’s story trying to find and understand his life’s purpose through four different lives. He was first born as a stray dog and was later named when caught and kept in a dog pound. In his second life he was a golden retriever named Bailey. This is my favorite part of the book, aside from being a golden retriever which is my favorite dog breed, this is where he met Ethan. Come his third life, he became a she, a female German Shepherd named Ellie and was part of of the Search and K-9 unit. He was back to being a male dog in his fourth life and this time a Labrador.

Told from a dog’s perspective, every thought that enters the dog’s mind were realistic. The way the author has written the dog’s thoughts made me feel like I am actually in a dog’s mind. It felt like the dog was really the one telling the story.

A Dog’s Purpose is a roller coaster of emotions — I laughed, I cried, it was happy and sad, it made me nervous and scared, it made me hopeful. I just so love this book from beginning to end.

W. Bruce Cameron did a brilliant job in this book. Whether you’re a dog/animal lover or not, I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed. I can’t give enough praises to this work. Read it. It’s a paw-fect book!

Quotable Quotes:

“The job of a good dog was ultimately to be with them, remaining by their sides no matter what course their lives might take. All I could do now was offer him comfort, the assurance that as he left this life he was not alone but rather was tended by the dog who loved him more than anything in the whole world.”

“Because failure isn’t an option if success is just a matter of more effort.”

“Humans were capable of so many amazing things, but too often they just sat making words, not doing anything.”

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

thetattoistofauschwitzI’ve been seeing this book almost everywhere both online and offline and so I’ve finally decided to purchase an ebook and see why people are so raving about it.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is Lale’s true story during the second world war. It tells us how he became the tattooist in Auschwitz and the trials and sufferings he and the others experienced there.

I liked the story, I do, but I didn’t quite like the writing. I’m a big fan of world war reads but this just came a bit flat for me. I also wasn’t able to connect with the characters and there was no character development. I also didn’t feel that much emotion while reading this unlike the other books I’ve read about the war. I did felt some but I would have loved it more if I were able to feel a connection with the characters or between Lale and Gita. I kinda felt like the bond between them was missing, an opportunity missed for a beautiful love story. Or is it just me? Don’t get me wrong, this would have really been a great story but I really felt the writing didn’t do it justice.

Any holocaust-related story is a gripping tale but I wasn’t blown away with this one. Still I’m glad I’ve read it.

Quotable Quotes:

“I know he is not perfect, but I also know he will always put me first.”

“To save one is to save the world.”

“Remember the small things and the big things will work themselves out.”

Rating: 3/5 stars

Demian by Hermann Hesse

demianDemian is my second Hermanne Hesse piece and he was certainly able to capture my attention with a captivating start and lost me somewhere halfway through the story. The ending? Either entranced or disappointed I guess.

This is the complex coming-of-age story of Emil Sinclair and his journey in search of his true self. It started with a lie in order to impress his friends which however turned so bad thus the threats and bullying began. He started to believe he doesn’t belong to the society until he met Demian and his life was changed forever.

Demian really started strong but slowly lost me midway through. It’s not a bad book, there were interesting concepts actually but the ending just didn’t seem to answer the questions asked all throughout the story.

Maybe I just don’t get it. Or perhaps Hesse’s works are just not my cup of tea.

Quotable Quotes:

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”

“Those who are too lazy and comfortable to think for themselves and be their own judges obey the laws. Others sense their own laws within them.”

“I wanted only to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?”

Rating: 2/5 stars

 

 

 

 

Half of the Yellow Sun by Adichie Chimamanda Ngozi

halfofayellowsunI have to admit, I have very little knowledge of Nigeria and of the Republic of Biafra and its states so reading a book like Half of a Yellow Sun was very educational and informative for me. I know very little about Africa actually with the exception of Egypt perhaps, so this really was a wonderful pick.

This is my first experience with Adichie Chimamanda Ngozi and I understand now what people are raving about. I must say the writing was excellent. She was able to make me feel like I’ve just lived through the experience. She was able to show how manipulative a propaganda can get and how people change as the war continues. I will surely read more of her works.

The story is about the war in Nigeria in 1960s when Biafra was trying to establish itself as a separate state/republic from Nigeria. Written in alternating points of view from several characters, the book provides a good insight of Nigerian life. My favorite characters were Kainene and Ugwu. I am still wondering where Kainene is and what happened to her.

The book title was based from the Biafran flag where red symbolizes blood of the massacred in the North, black for mourning, green for prosperity and the half of a yellow sun symbolizes a glorious future which was sadly never seen.

I enjoyed reading this book as I was exposed to something I knew very little about and I am excited to read more pieces from this author and see how they compare.

Quotable Quotes:

“There are some things that are so unforgivable that they make other things easily forgivable.”

“You can’t write a script in your mind and then force yourself to follow it. You have to let yourself be.”

“Why do I love him?…I don’t think love has a reason…I think love comes first and then the reasons follow.”

“Grief was the celebration of love, those who could feel real grief were lucky to have loved.”

“You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me?” Aunty Ifeka said. “Your life belongs to you and you alone.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

 

 

 

The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall

russian concubineThe Russian Concubine started out quite interestingly for me then somehow got a bit slow for my taste in the middle then started to pick up the pace again in the last third of the book.

The plot was quite interesting. A mother and daughter who escaped from the Russian bolsheviks and ended up in an international settlement in China. Nice to have gained insights about China during the days of Chiang Kai Shek, Sun Yat-sen and Mao Tse-tung.

Lydia, the daughter is fiery and eventually fell in love with a Chinese communist boy who has been trying to protect her whenever he can.

The title was a bit misleading though. The main character, is no concubine. There was a mention of a concubine after some 200 pages in the book but I don’t know why or how the author decided on it, go figure.

Anyhow, I ended up really liking this story more when there was only a third left in the story. I was already thinking about putting it on-hold but I’m glad that I went on. Moreover, I’m happy that the end is a beginning of another story, I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

Quotable Quotes:

“The sight of you brings joy to my heart and makes my blood thunder in my veins. I know not how long I will be allowed to stand here. So there are words I must say. That you are the moon and the stars to me, and the air I breathe. To love you is to live. So if I die…. I will still live in you.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark

driver'sseatI’m not very sure what to make of this novella just yet even after reading it months ago. The plot and ending didn’t really make sense to me. Perhaps a reread would help?

A reread, indeed. Thankfully, it’s a short read.

One can tell from the beginning that there’s something wrong with Lise. I can’t say I was enjoying it. Lise was actually getting into my nerves. I spent the whole time reading it wanting to slap her hard.

To summarize the story, Lise is crazy and she will be murdered. And yes, she was. I couldn’t see any point in the characters or the story itself so it was definitely a good thing that it’s a really short read.

This was the weirdest book I’ve read as far as I can remember. Weird in a way I didn’t really like or enjoy.

Apparently, I wasn’t satisfied in my first foray of Muriel Spark’s works but I’m still inclined to familiarize myself more of her. The more perceptive readers could probably get more from this book. Any suggestions for a better one, please?

Rating: 2/5 stars

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

flowersforalgernonWhich is better — to have had and lost or not having it at all? This question is what’s left to me after reading Flowers of Algernon.

This is my first read from Daniel Keyes and I think it’s a really good introduction to his works. The concept of the story was quite interesting but it was definitely gut and heart wrenching. And that it ended sooner than I expected/wanted made me even sadder. Some things were quite predictable but it was still a really good read. I knew the ending was going to be that way but it turned out like I wasn’t really ready for it, for how heartbreaking it was to be.

Like many of the books I’ve read, this helped me change my view of life and people. Very often, I see how a lot of people take advantage of those who are less capable, less smart and less fortunate. It is a very sad thing to see. And this book made me more appreciative and sympathetic of people like Charlie.

This is a very sad book to read but something everyone should.

Quotable Quotes:

“I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”

“Now I understand that one of the important reasons for going to college and getting an education is to learn that the things you’ve believed in all your life aren’t true, and that nothing is what it appears to be.”

“Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m glad I had a second chance in life like you said to be smart because I learned a lot of things that I never knew were in this world, and I’m grateful I saw it even for a little bit.”

Rating: 4/5 stars 

 

Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa

irisHotel Iris is a story about the friendship between an elderly man only known as the translator and 17-year-old Mari. After a scandalous event that happened in Mari’s mother’s hotel between this elderly man and a prostitute, things started to change for her. Mari was strongly drawn to this man’s voice and has gotten very curious. They eventually became friends and things got much deeper and darker in this friendship.

Mari’s monotonous life changed. She started telling lies to her mother in order to excuse herself from working in the hotel and be able to meet the translator until finally, she found herself in his place on the island which made her explore the nature of desire and pleasure but also of pain and humiliation.

This is my second Yoko Ogawa read, next to The Housekeeper and The Professor. The author’s writing talent is quite evident in every line and I love how she portrays her characters.

Hotel Iris is not something I’d recommend to everyone but if you want something that will make you feel and think, this book is for you.

Quotable Quotes:

“I beg of you to go on living in this world I inhabit. I suppose you find this a rather ridiculous request, but to me it is of the utmost importance that you simply exist.”

“He had undressed me with great skill, his movements no less elegant for all their violence. Indeed, the more he shamed me, the more refined he became — like a perfumer plucking the petals from a rose, a jeweler prying open an oyster for its pearl.”

“I was confused and afraid, and yet somewhere deep inside I was praying that voice would someday give me an order, too.

Rating: 3/5 stars

 

The Assault by Harry Mulisch

The-AssaultI have never heard of Harry Mulisch before I saw the title on Goodreads. I enjoy reading historical fictions the most and so I was hooked right away after reading the synopsis.

It was winter of 1945 in occupied Holland, the last dark days of World War II. Anton Steenwijk and his family live in one of the four rows of houses and while playing a game together, they suddenly heard gunshots. Peter, Anton’s brother reached for the window and saw a dead body lying in front of their neighbor’s house. To their surprise, their neighbors moved the dead body in front of their home and before they could do anything, the Germans retaliated fiercely. As it turns out, the dead man was Fake Ploeg, an infamous Nazi collaborator.

It is a great read about how the war has affected Anton since that winter night whose family died in the hands of the Germans. It is a great read about chance and fate and about memory and how memory shapes life. The interesting twist in the end made perfect sense.

Quotable Quotes:

“A man who has never been hungry may possess a more refined palate, but he has no idea what it means to eat.”

“Besides, whoever keeps the future in front of him and the past at his back is doing something else that is hard to imagine. For the image implies that events somehow already exist in the future, reach the present at a determined moment, and finally come to rest in the past. But nothing exists in the future; it is empty; one might die at any minute. Therefore such a person has his face turned toward the void, whereas it is the past behind him that is visible, stored in the memory.”

“Boundaries have to be continuously sealed off, but it’s a hopeless job, fore everything touches everything else in this world. A beginning never disappears, not even with the ending.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

pachinkoPachinko follows the story of Sunja and her family through four generations across Korea and Japan. It describes the experiences of Koreans during the Japanese occupation in Korea and the harsh discrimination they had to endure in Japan during that moment in history. Sunja and her family, as well as many Koreans, didn’t have much choice at that time but to struggle in order to survive.

There are so many characters in this book, some we encounter very briefly while some take part throughout the entire story. Even with a large cast of characters, Min Jin Lee was able to let us glimpse into each one of them and how they lead their lives. What I found most interesting was how she managed to put the characters in similar situations and how the characters chose to deal with it.

It’s a lengthy read but don’t let that stop you from reading for the book was greatly-paced, you wouldn’t want to put it down.

Min Jin Lee’s writing style is simple but elegant. The characters seem to speak in a such a way that it penetrates through the heart and touched me and made every part of the story realistic. Somehow, I did not want the book to end. I love that I’ve learned more about some part of history I have been keen of knowing more since I was in high school. And the fact that I have been working for a Korean company for quite some time now makes the read more interesting. In a way, I sort of feel like I understand more about them now.

This was a very entertaining and wonderful read and it could even be a great TV drama.

Highly recommended to everyone.

Quotable Quotes:

“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.”

“Learn everything. Fill your mind with knowledge—it’s the only kind of power no one can take away from you.”

“Yes, of course. If you love anyone, you cannot help but share his suffering. If we love our Lord, not just admire him or fear him or want things from him, we must recognize his feelings; he must be in anguish over our sins. We must understand this anguish. The Lord suffers with us. He suffers like us. It is a consolation to know this. To know that we are not in fact alone in our suffering.”

“You want to see a very bad man? Make an ordinary man successful beyond his imagination. Let’s see how good he is when he can do whatever he wants.”

“No one is clean. Living makes you dirty.”

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

 

 

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

history of loveThe book is about Leo Gursky, a very interesting character, a Holocaust survivor from Poland, now in his eighties and living by himself, already had a serious heart attack and only wants not to die on a day he went unseen and so he attracts attention to himself in public while waiting for death to take him.

I enjoyed this book so much, the characters — Leo Gursky most of all, the story — hilarious and sad at the same time, the very beautiful writing of Nicole Krauss. Like the A Song of Ice and Fire series, I liked that the story was told by alternating narrators. The only difference is that in this book, I adored all the voices, there wasn’t any narrator/chapter I found anxious to get through. Every one was engaging.

The History of Love is one great example of a book about life and love. Amazing read. Highly recommended.

Quotable Quotes:
“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
“What about you? Are you happiest and saddest right now that you’ve ever been?” “Of course I am.” “Why?” “Because nothing makes me happier and nothing makes me sadder than you.”
“I want to say somewhere: I’ve tried to be forgiving. And yet. There were times in my life, whole years, when anger got the better of me. Ugliness turned me inside out. There was a certain satisfaction in bitterness. I courted it. It was standing outside, and I invited it in.”
“The truth is the thing I invented so I could live.”
“There are two types of people in the world: those who prefer to be sad among others, and those who prefer to be sad alone.”

Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

WWW Wednesday (20-Nov-2019)

img_1384-0Hello there! Welcome to WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam from Taking On A World of Words. I didn’t really have the time to read as much as I usually could the past couple of weeks but I’m somehow back to it now so here we go. 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:

amonstercalls

A Monster Calls is a very emotional story and so vivid in pain and suffering that will break your heart. It just broke mine a thousand times.

Currently Reading:

 

I haven’t gone far with A Dance with Dragons but I’m delighted to read the first few chapters that featured Tyrion, Daenerys and Jon Snow.

I’ve also started The Forgotten Highlander by Alistair Urquhart, a 19-year-old soldier in the Gordon Highlanders who was captured by the Japanese in Singapore. This sparks a great interest on my part quite a lot so I hope it won’t disappoint.

Up Next:

russian concubine

I’m still very inclined to read this next so I won’t be checking other books for the meantime.

Also, I was able to write a few reviews about the books I’ve finished reading a few months back and you can check them here:

 

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

I’d be glad to know what you’re reading, what you’ve just finished and what you plan to read next so drop a link so I can check them out or share them on the comments section.

Until next time, homo sapiens!

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

vegetarianYeong-hye wakes up from a nightmare one morning and decided to stop eating meat and without hesitation, throws away every meat in their house. And so we follow her story as she loses control of herself little by little. It started firstly with her refusing meat. Secondly, her not being comfortable with her body and lastly, with her physical and mental state drift somewhere out of this world.

The Vegetarian comes in three parts in chronological order from Yeong-hye’s husband, brother-in-law and her sister’s perspectives. I personally would have loved to know Yeong-hye’s thoughts specially about the dream she had that changed everything for her.

This is a short (but not really quick) and compelling read, beautiful at the same time brutal. In it is a depth that demands attention.

Quotable Quotes:

“Why, is it such a bad thing to die?”

“The feeling that she had never really lived in this world caught her by surprise. It was a fact. She had never lived. Even as a child, as far back as she could remember, she had done nothing but endure.”

“The pain feels like a hole swallowing her up, a source of intense fear and yet, at the same time, a strange, quiet peace.”

“Her life was no more than a ghostly pageant of exhausted endurance, no more real than a television drama. Death, who now stood by her side, was as familiar to her as a family member, missing for a long time but now returned.”

“Time was a wave, almost cruel in its relentlessness.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

paramoThe story opens with a very straightforward narrative: Juan Preciado is on his way to Comala to carry out his dying mother’s request — to search for his father Pedro Paramo and claim what’s his. The story gets complicated as soon as he arrived.

The book is multi-voiced. It began in the first-person then a chorus of voices followed thereafter. There were third and first-person voices both in the past and present tense, between the living and the dead.

Juan Preciado eventually realized that everyone is dead in Comala and that he was just talking with spirits because Comala became some sort of a purgatory. I liked the idea that almost everyone he met were dead. Eerie! Juan Preciado’s disappearance made it a bit confusing for me though. Or did he really disappear? Did he die? I’m still not sure.

With its beautiful prose and as a great example of magical realism, I am inclined to reread it to try to seek and understand several details of the story that might have passed me by on my first read.

Quotable Quotes:

“No one knows better than I do how far heaven is, but I also know all the shortcuts. The secret is to die, when you want to, and not when He proposes. Or else to force Him to take you before your time.”

“Death is not something you offer as entertainment. No one goes around looking for sadness.”

“The air is clear, there is sunlight, and there are clouds. Up above the sky is blue, and perhaps behind it there are songs and perhaps also voices… In short, there is hope. There is hope for us to heal our sorrow.”

“Everyone chooses the same path. Everyone leaves us.”

“…Don’t worry about me. I have hidden my pain in a safe place. Don’t let your heart stop beating.”

Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov

jamiliaIt’s refreshing to read about a different part of the world that I don’t really have much idea about — Kyrgyzstan. Last year, I’ve met a Kyrgyz lady in Georgia. We get to spend a few hours together and I remember she was very cheerful and loved to talk about her country. The only thing I know about Kyrgyzstan before I met her is that it is a mountainous country in Central Asia.

Jamilia is a novella that took place during World War II. Narrated by Seit, the only son left in the family and not sent off to war. Jamilia is Seit’s sister-in-law. One day, Daniyar arrived in their village and soon enough opened their eyes to the beauty around them with his songs.

True enough, nothing much happened in the story but it isn’t much about what happened but how it happened. It is how souls speak to one another. Aitmatov was able to write the internal struggles of Jamilia through Seit’s observations. This is not just a love story about two people, it is also love for country, for culture, for music and life itself.

This book is beauty in simplicity. Read it as it is to enjoy.

Quotable Quotes:

“I was astounded at the passion and fire of the melody itself. I could not describe it then, nor can I now. Was it just his voice or something more tangible emerging from his very soul that could arouse such emotion in another person, and bring one’s innermost thoughts to life?”

“I was stunned. The steppe seemed to burst into bloom, heaving a sigh and drawing aside the veil of darkness, and I saw two lovers in its vast expanse.”

“May Daniyar’s song resound and may Jamilia’s heart beat with every stroke of my brush.”

“His singing made me want to fall to the ground and kiss it, as a son to a mother, grateful that someone could love it so keenly. For the first time in my life something new awoke within me, something irresistible: I still cannot explain it. It was a need to express myself, yes, to express myself, not only to see and sense the world, but to bring to others my vision, my thoughts and sensations, to describe the beauty of the earth as inspiringly as Daniyar could sing. I caught my breath for fear and joy of the unknown.”

“No, no, no. He never loved me, he even sent his regards as a postscript.  I don’t need his tardy love and I don’t care what people say.  My lonely darling, I’ll never let you go.  I’ve loved you for so long.  Even when I did not know I loved you, I was waiting for you, and you came as if you knew I was waiting.”

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

 

 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in BrooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a beautiful book which opens in 1912 and tells about the pleasures and pain of growing up through the eyes of Francie Nolan, with her family, in a large and poor immigrant neighborhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Francie’s father, Johnny Nolan, is an attractive drunk, part-time waiter and singer in restaurants. Katie, her mother, is a determined and hardworking woman. Katie married Johnny when she was 17 and soon had Francie and afterwards, Neeley. Francie is smart, delightful in small pleasures, curious and ambitious. She loves her family, she loves reading and school. Neeley is a darling and is Katie’s apple of the eye. Sissy, Katie’s older sister, the only Rommely daughter who didn’t attend school, very loving, longs to become a mother, has (yes, has) three husbands and is my favorite character in the story.

The book mostly focuses on the hardships and sad moments people, young and old, encounter in life, however, it also shows the importance of these moments in order to appreciate the good ones. Some parts of the story were very relatable, and I’ve always enjoyed books that I can relate to. I, for one, also struggled to make ends meet at some point in my life. It’s funny remembering those days sometimes but those experiences helped me quite a lot to achieve my goals and be where I am now. Some lessons we learn as children don’t really make sense to us until we grow older. Things that we don’t really understand until we become adults.

Another point which the author, Betty Smith, was able to focus on is the sense of love, determination and hope in the family. The way she’s written the story won’t bring you to tears but will let you feel a profound connection with the Nolans.

It’s also quite notable that the women are the stars in this novel. Brilliant women packed with girl power. 🙂 They’re the strong characters in the entire story. They work mornings and evenings, they bear children one after another, they make sure to save as much money as they could even though they earn very little and sometimes not even enough to get by, and most importantly, they try their best to send their children to school and educate them and make them believe in a life that’s far much better than what they’re living at that time. Katie is very determined to send Francie and Neeley to school, she lets them read the Bible and Shakespeare every night.  Her sisters, Evy and Sissy, are also smart and independent women in their own ways.

Francie is smart and observant. A combination of her parents — a dreamer like her father, realistic and determined like her mother. She’s a keen observer, always sees the good in people and she loves reading. She has rich imagination and a good storyteller. She longs for more attention from her mother but she also knows that Neeley has always been her mother’s favorite. Her ability to deal with adversity along with being hard working and taking every opportunity she gets to better herself  is very admirable of her and was indeed very essential as she turns out to be “the tree that grew in Brooklyn.”

This is a gorgeous coming of age book. A book I can easily recommend to everyone and make them understand why I read. To be entangled with the characters in a beautiful, remarkable but also terrible and painful story in time or places we, too, experienced or never once imagined.

Quotable Quotes:

“I know that’s what people say– you’ll get over it. I’d say it, too. But I know it’s not true. Oh, you’ll be happy again, never fear. But you won’t forget. Every time you fall in love it will be because something in the man reminds you of him”

“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing,” thought Francie, “something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains – a cup of strong hot coffee when you’re blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you’re alone – just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.”

“She was made up of more, too. She was the books she read in the library. She was the flower in the brown bowl. Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard. She was the bitter quarrels she had with her brother whom she loved dearly. She was Katie’s secret, despairing weeping. She was the shame of her father stumbling home drunk. She was all of these things and of something more…It was what God or whatever is His equivalent puts into each soul that is given life – the one different thing such as that which makes no two fingerprints on the face of the earth alike.”

“Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words.”

“Sometimes I think it’s better to suffer bitter unhappiness and to fight and to scream out, and even to suffer that terrible pain, than to just be… safe. At least she knows she’s living.”

Rating: 5/5 stars

A Reread: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite RunnerI’ve loved this book ever since I’ve read it in 2013. It’s one of the books that really left something in me. One of the very few that emotionally drained me. I watched the film adaptation and for those of you who have been following me for some time now, I’m not a big fan of movies based on books, so of course, I was disappointed. The only thing I liked in the movie was the boy who played the role of Hassan. Hassan has always been one of the top book characters very dear to me since I’ve read this and he’s the only thing that didn’t disappoint in the movie.

I’ve decided to reread this a few days before Christmas. I knew that the book is gonna make me sad and might affect my mood for the holidays, but I read it anyway.

The Kite Runner is the story of Amir and Hassan while growing up in Kabul in the early 1970s. Amir, a Sunni, is the son of a wealthy businessman (Amir calls him Baba) while Hassan, a Shia, is the son of Ali, their Hazara servant. The two boys are best friends but cultural and social barriers still separate them. Baba treats them equally as much as he could. Amir started to feel jealous of Hassan as Baba always admires him and always catches his attention without even trying while Amir on the other hand is trying too hard to impress him but Baba always gets disappointed.

Amir decided to impress Baba in the coming annual kite-flying/fighting tournament. This is where the story really started. My heart broke for Hassan the first time I’ve read this. And it still did the second time. And if I continue writing about it, I might delve into spoilers even though maybe most of you must have read the book already.

This is a book about friendship, father and son, brotherhood, relationships, jealousy, guilt, redemption, love, trust, freedom, forgiveness and mistakes. Mistakes we either make or make us.

Khaled Hosseini used a very descriptive and simple writing style. The way and the amount of historical background he provided in the book was good enough so as not to overwhelm the reader. I liked how the story was told as it made me get attached to the characters which is one of the important things to me when I read a book.

I was once again blown away by The Kite Runner and this will definitely stay on top of my favorite books, quietly seeping into my being.

Quotable Quotes:

“For you, a thousand times over.”

“And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does, too.”

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

“It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn’t make everything all right. It didn’t make ANYTHING all right. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of a startled bird’s flight. But I’ll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.”

“When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.”

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by Jose Saramago

img_4671Book #13.

This controversial book tells the tale of Jesus Christ since his birth up to his death. It basically follows what’s written in the Bible but with some very notable changes. Here we see Jesus as human just like all of us, that Mary Magdalene is his lover, God’s working relationship with the devil and more.

The Gospel According to Jesus Christ is my first Saramago read and I must say I found it very interesting. While reading this, part of me kind of believed this was actually the real story but thanks to the humorous and sarcastic interruptions every now and then that it reminded me it’s not. The writing style was new to me, the narration are in very long sentences and paragraphs with almost no breaks but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this. What struck me the most I guess is the part towards the end where God, Jesus and the devil had a conversation on the boat. This is where Saramago tells us that if God exists, He is an egomaniac and not the God we assume He is nowadays. Soon enough, Jesus was disappointed as he realized that he was a victim of God’s pride, a sacrificial lamb as Saramago puts it.

I do understand the controversy of this book as Jesus is not as righteous as Christians think he is in Senhor Saramago’s pen. This will insult and shock many but this is how he writes. Take it or leave it.

Quotable Quotes :

“The time for miracles has either passed or not come yet, besides, miracles, genuine miracles, whatever people say, are not such a good idea, if it means destroying the very order of things in order to improve them.”

“For human words are like shadows, and shadows are incapable of explaining light and between shadow and light there is the opaque body from which words are born.”

“This is how everyone has to begin, men who have never known a woman, women who have never known a man, until the day comes for the one who knows to teach the one who does not.”

“Somewhere in the infinite that He occupies, God advances and withdraws the pawns of the other games He plays, but it is too soon to worry about this one, all He need do for the present is allow things to take their natural course, apart from the occasional adjustment with the tip of His little finger to make sure some stray thought or action does not interfere with the harmony of destinies.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

img_5990Book #19.

I started reading this a couple of months ago, a birthday gift from a dear friend. (Yeah, that’s him.) I’ve loved the cover since I’ve laid my hands on it. A man’s face full of pain which is exactly what your heart’s gonna feel once you open it.

I’ve been staring at my PC since this morning trying to find the words to say about this book. It’s not easy. But let me try.

The story follows the life of four friends: Malcolm, the architect and the quiet follower of the group; JB, the artist and the self-proclaimed alpha of the set; Willem, the actor and the most compassionate; and Jude, the lawyer, the abused, the vortex of this foursome. The characters are fully fleshed out. I’m not a particularly immersive reader but I like the book more when I get attached to the characters. I love reading about their lives. I love them. Survivors in their own way. Their friendship built a home that stood a long time, it grew and changed to accommodate more characters, friends and partners, but sadly, it can’t protect them all forever.

This is an emotionally draining read. I haven’t felt emotionally exhausted by a book since I’ve read The Kite Runner, but A Little Life did just that. There were parts that I think were too much that made it difficult to go on reading. Wrenching. And not just the heart, even the brain and stomach. Full-body-wrenching read. I’ve truly wanted Jude to be happy but at some point, it was becoming clearer that it’s not going to happen. Then from the end of The Happy Years chapter until the end of the book? I mean, seriously, why? Oh my God! It broke me. Absolute sadness that I felt like I’ve also lost all my dear friends.

So just like everyone’s life, it’s a story about a life simply lived and was helped shaped by the people and things around it. There’s love, happiness, tragedy and disappointments. Life is such a fragile thing, we never know exactly how the things we do may affect others or not, whether we do them good or we damage them, it’s not always visible to us and more often, we have no idea what our actions did to them. It’s a cautionary book, as the aphorism goes, “Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

There are a lot of things to say about this book but I still can’t articulate any at the moment, I’m still at a loss. It’s simply too hard. This book isn’t little in any way. It is large in every way. Hanya Yanagihara’s writing was mostly intense, immaculate, fluid and honest. Very realistic and harsh at some point. No silver lining.

It’s a bit confusing to say that I love this book because how can I love a story which depicts other people’s pain? But it is definitely captivating, engaging, powerful. It consumed me. I highly recommend this specially for readers who like an emotional book. It’s a difficult read in more ways than one but it’s worth reading.

Quotable Quotes :

“Let me get better, he asks. Let me get better or let me end it.”

“He knew it was the price of enjoying life, that if he was to be alert to the things he now found pleasure in, he would have to accept its cost as well. Because as assaultive as his memories were, his life coming back to him in pieces, he knew he would endure them if it meant he could also have friends, if he kept being granted the ability to take comfort in others.”

“…the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are—not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving—and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and to try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad—or good—it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well.”

“…things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully.”

“He was frightened of everything, it sometimes seemed, and he hated that about himself. Fear and hatred, fear and hatred: often, it seemed, that those were the only two qualities he possessed. Fear of everyone else; hatred of himself.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

 

 

 

A Reread – A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

downloadBook #15.

I’ve decided to reread A Wild Sheep Chase since I’ve just finished the first two books of The Rat Trilogy just recently and it felt like reading it for the first time… twice! I can say I appreciate this book more now. I was able to understand it better as well and it opened my eyes to things I wasn’t able to grasp on my first reading.

In this final book of the trilogy, we still have our unnamed characters from the previous books and we finally have one named character, too! Kippler, the cat. 🙂 It was also while reading this that I realized how much I care for the characters in Murakami’s books. They are mostly intriguing that I really care about what’s going to happen to them. Moreover, Murakami has a way of describing the characters’ feelings like no other.

In a nutshell,  we have our protagonist who’s living a mediocre life, haunted by a whale’s penis, who doesn’t seem to be affected with his wife’s betrayal which led to their divorce, and soon meets a girl with unusually beautiful ears. Then the disappearance (and reappearance) of his friend, the Rat. We also have the sheep professor who locks himself in one of the rooms of Dolphin Hotel owned by his son. An Ainu youth who helped some early Japanese settlers in Hokkaido. A dying wealthy man known as the Boss, who sent his secretary/representative to our narrator to go find a mystical sheep with a star mark on its back. What do all these characters have to do with each other? They’re all a part of a wild sheep chase…

I didn’t really realize it the first time I’ve read this but I noticed that aside from the mystical sheep, war is also something we find in common among three notable characters here — the Boss, the sheep professor and the Ainu youth. They’re all remarkable characters in their own ways which is in contrast to our narrator who seems to be unaffected with his divorce, no ambitions and there doesn’t seem to be anything of significance to him. This I think, once again is an example of how Murakami was again able to explore the meaning of life and the meaning of living through the eyes of a mediocre Japanese guy disappointed in a modern world and in this life. There were several instances when the narrator feels nostalgic about music and the simple life he had when he was younger thus he struggles with the changes and modernization happening around say for example, the Boss’ right-wing. It’s also quite notable that Murakami probably felt that the modernization and corruption that happened to Japan is mostly because of western/foreign influence thus he used the sheep which was a new livestock brought to Japan, nobody knew about it, no historical connection in the lives of the Japanese, but was able to make big changes. The sheep though is something I see as a driving force for people who are weak to try to be as successful or productive as they can be. It somehow represents ambition and will to be powerful. Well it really depends on the reader what the sheep is trying to represent and this is just what I think but it’s the same thing that made our narrator and the Rat uneasy and troubled.

When the book ended, it made me want for more, though probably, as far as the Rat is concerned, I think the story has ended. And it’s sad. But still, as is what’s expected of every Murakami book, there are far more unanswered questions left behind. I’m not sure if Dance, Dance, Dance has the answers to these questions but I’m certainly looking forward to reading it soon.

Quotable Quotes :

“I was feeling lonely without her, but the fact that I could feel lonely at all was consolation. Loneliness wasn’t such a bad feeling. It was like the stillness of the pin oak after the little birds had flown off.”

“The song is over. But the melody lingers on.”

“Some things are forgotten, some things disappear, some things die.”

“I guess I felt attached to my weakness. My pain and suffering too. Summer light, the smell of a breeze, the sound of cicadas – if I like these things, why should I apologize?”

“Body cells replace themselves every month. Even at this very moment. Most everything you think you know about me is nothing more than memories.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami

downloadBook #14.

Pinball, 1973 is the second book in The Rat series and just like Hear the Wind Sing, this is also a short read. So we have here the same unnamed narrator, now a few years older and got addicted to pinball, his acquaintance, the Rat who is still lonely and had a strange affair with a certain woman, J the bartender and a few additional unnamed characters like the twins who just one day appeared in the narrator’s apartment.

Pinball generally talks about loneliness and being alone. One trying to distance himself from people and one who can’t open up himself to others. Here we see how deeply his girlfriend’s suicide from the first book affected our narrator. The Rat on the other hand continues to struggle with his own life, not knowing exactly what to do and whether to stay or leave. The narrator and the Rat never met in this book but it seemed like their loneliness kind of connected them and that same loneliness consumed me.

Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball are a good warm-up to Murakami’s first full-length novel A Wild Sheep Chase which I happened to read back in 2015. I thought then that I didn’t seem to miss on anything without reading the first two books but now that I’ve read them, it is very likely that I’ll read it again and will somehow enjoy and understand it more.

It’s very interesting to see the author’s writing progress in this second book of his. Pinball is better than its predecessor and we can see more signs of Murakami’s strangeness already and most importantly how his characters contemplate about the important questions in life and how they deal with it, which in a way makes us readers rethink about how we deal with our lives as well. I kind of wished it to be a little longer too because when it started to get better, that’s when it ended.

Another Murakami work that gave me something to chew on.

Quotable Quotes :

“Sometimes I feel like a caretaker of a museum — a huge, empty museum where no one ever comes, and I’m watching over it for no one but myself.”

“I could go on like this forever, but would I ever find a place that was meant for me?”

“We fell silent again. The thing we had shared was nothing more than a fragment of time that had died long ago. Even so, a faint glimmer of that warm memory still claimed a part of my heart. And when death claimed me, no doubt I would walk along by that faint light in the brief instant before being flung once again into the abyss of nothingness.”

“Happiness is a warm friendship.”

“There are — how do you say — things in this world our philosophy cannot account for.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

download-1Book #8.

I have to admit I was really intrigued when I first saw this book on my feeds in Goodreads. The idea about the butterflies is just sick but I was definitely hooked. The story started with Maya being rescued by the FBI and we learn of the story during the interview process. It’s not easy to talk about the plot without spoilers so I won’t say more.

The story was brilliantly written, Dot Hutchison’s writing style is excellent and characterization was also good. I have to say, however, that the ending left me feeling off, I don’t know, but I think the plot twist didn’t work out well for me.

I don’t think this book is for everyone since it has several disturbing themes — rape, suicide, murder and sexual assault. All in all, it’s a great read and I think this could be an excellent movie.

Quotable Quotes :

“You seem to have this strange image of me as a lost child, like I’ve just been thrown on the side of the road like garbage, or roadkill, but kids like me? We’re not lost. We may be the only ones who never are. We always know exactly where we are and where we can go. And where we can’t.”

“Some people stay broken. Some pick up the pieces and put them back together with all the sharp edges showing.”

“The trouble with sociopaths, really, is that you never know where they draw their boundaries.”

“At some point, maybe you have to break.”

“Some wanted the freedom to be anyone they wanted, some of us wanted the freedom to be left alone.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

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Book #7.

I have been interested with Banana Yoshimoto for quite some time now but I haven’t got the chance to read any of her books. I’m not sure how I came across a copy of this but I’m glad I did.

The Lake is the story of Chihiro who moved to Tokyo after her mom died hoping to have a career as a graphic artist and eventually get over her grief. She often spends her time by the window and eventually noticed a man, Nakajima, from another window and soon became friends. Chihiro later learns that Nakajima is dealing with something complex brought about by his past. Both of them are trying to get over the loss of their mothers in their own different ways.

I like the simplicity of the prose. I really think it’s beautiful. I love how Chihiro and Nakajima’s love story cautiously develops. The way Nakajima tries to step up and get over his issues and still sometimes end up in depression seems very realistic which makes the book more interesting for me. His sweet and at the same time sad story with his friends Mino and Chii are also worth the read. And by the time I found myself attached to the characters already, the story was over.

Yoshimoto’s writing style is very simple and soothing that I think this is a very good introduction of her works for me. That said, I’m looking forward to reading her other books.

Quotable Quotes :

“Of course, it’s true that sometimes the pink at sunrise somehow seems brighter than the pink at sunset, and that when you’re feeling down the the landscape seems darker, too – you see things through the filter of your own sensibility.”

“…there’s nothing wrong with being a little hopeful. Who says you can’t warm your frozen limbs in the faint heat of a flicker of hope?”

“I love feeling the rhythm of other people’s lives. It’s like traveling.”

“When things get really bad, you take comfort in the placeness of a place.”

“Why were we so far apart, even when we were together? It was a nice loneliness, like the sensation of washing your face in cold water.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Book #2. the-stranger

Narrated by a Mr. Meursault, whose mother just died and who was later put on trial because of killing an Arab man, then soon sentenced to be executed. While the people who knows him think that he’s innocent, he himself don’t feel guilty of the murder. However, he felt that he’s a threat to the society for being indifferent.

This is probably not the easiest kind of philosophy to swallow, however, I think it’s something you can read if you want something to stimulate your mind. It doesn’t matter if you’ll agree with the book or not in the end, but it is a challenging one.

Quotable Quotes :

“I may not have been sure about what really did interest me, but I was absolutely sure about what didn’t.”

“I had been right, I was still right, I was always right. I had lived my life one way and I could just as well have lived it another. I had done this and I hadn’t done that. I hadn’t done this thing but I had done another. And so?”

“I’ve never really had much of an imagination. But still I would try to picture the exact moment when the beating of my heart would no longer be going on inside my head.”

“Mother used to say that however miserable one is, there’s always something to be thankful for. And each morning, when the sky brightened and light began to flood my cell, I agreed with her.”

“After awhile you could get used to anything.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

downloadBook #30.

Some books leave you satisfied. Some books leave you confused. Some books leave you content. Some books leave you happy while some leave you sad. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas left me heartbroken.

This is the story of a nine-year old boy named Bruno whose father is a Nazi commander during World War 2. After a visit from a man who Bruno calls as The Fury, his family has to move to Out-With where life is much different compared to Berlin.

Bruno likes exploring so he decided to explore the new place. He reached a fence where he meets Shmuel, also a nine-year old and wearing the striped pajamas. And so an unlikely but special friendship begins.

This is a fast, easy and unforgettable read but the tragic ending broke my heart…

Quotable Quotes :

“It reminds me of how grandmother always had the right costume for me to wear. You wear the right outfit and you feel like the person you’re pretending to be.”

“Sitting around miserable all day won’t make you any happier.”

“Don’t make it worse by thinking it’s more painful than it actually is.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

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Book #27.

Water for Elephants is a book by Jacob Jankowski, a ninety-three year old man in a nursing home reminiscing about his life when he was younger when he got himself into a circus train that belongs to the Benzini Brothers. His life changed when he fell in love with Marlena, a talented performer who happens to be the wife of his paranoid schizophrenic boss, August.

I think what captivated me most in this book is the picture of how circus life was at that time. How circus workers were red-lighted as punishment then in order for the circus owners not to pay their wages. Also, performers always get paid even in times when revenue is low, there’s a possibility for the workmen to get paid but for the black minority, it seems to be a normal practice to not get paid. And these minorities can’t do anything but to accept it as it is.

Animal cruelty was also a theme that saddened me while reading this. More so that Ms. Gruen mentioned these cruelties as facts.

I’d suggest to anyone who hasn’t read this yet to consider reading it and get fascinated in the world of circus in the 1930s.

Quotable Quotes :

“With a secret like that, at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.”

“I want her to melt into me, like butter on toast. I want to absorb her and walk around for the rest of my days with her encased in my skin. I want.”

“Life is the most spectacular show on earth.”

“When will people learn that just because you can make something doesn’t mean you should?”

“I stare at her for a long moment. I want to kiss her. I want to kiss her more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Because I am a huge fan of The Shadow of the Wind… Book #25.

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This is a story set in 1920’s Barcelona about David Martin, a gifted writer but has a very unfortunate past and is struggling to make a name for himself. He eventually met a mysterious French publisher who holds the key to his great expectations.

Just like The Shadow of the Wind, the plot includes mysterious characters, broken hearts and of course, books. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books also made its appearance again. It has a slower pace though compared to TSOTW.

With regards to characters, I enjoyed Isabella a lot. I love the banterings between her and David. What happened to her in the epilogue saddened me a lot. I am a little bothered though what happened to Christina in the end.

I actually still do not fully understand the book and the ending was nothing I expected which left me rather perplexed which means I will be thinking about this for the next few days.

I won’t discourage you from reading it but just lower your expectations.

Quotable Quotes :

“Don’t be afraid of being scared. To be afraid is a sign of common sense. Only complete idiots are not afraid of anything.”

“Every book has a soul, the soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and dream about it.”

“I don’t suppose you have many friends. Neither do I. I don’t trust people who say they have a lot of friends. It’s a sure sign that they don’t really know anyone.”

“Do you know the best thing about broken hearts? They can only really break once the rest is just scratches.”

“Human beings believe just as they breathe – in order to survive.”

Rating : 3.5/5 stars

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

Book #20. I just had to read it because it’s Gillian Flynn!

This is a short story with all the usual thrill present in Ms. Flynn’s books. It’s a story about an unnamed narrator who was first a beggar, then a “therapist” who gives a hand job to customers behind a psychic’s shop. She later became a palm reader or spiritual healer of some sort because she likes reading and she makes use of what she reads wisely to survive.

Though this is very short, it is very engaging. It definitely shows how the author’s imagination can go beyond her most popular novel, Gone Girl. It makes me want more!

Quotable Quotes:

“But I wasn’t a well-read bookworm; I was just a dumb whore in the right library.”

“People are dumb. I’ll never get over how dumb people are.”

Rating : 4/5

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Book #19. A story of hope and incredible strength.

This is a story about one family who were one night suddenly taken from their home in Lithuania and became victims of the mass deportations in 1941 to Soviet labor camps.

I found this very interesting because it was written according to a 15-year old Lithuanian girl named Lina. She is just like other 15-year olds and she loves to draw.

That night when the Soviet soldiers came to their home, Lina, together with her mother and younger brother, were taken to a dirty train car with other people. Her father still wasn’t home that night and so they were separated since then.

Throughout the story, Lina felt the need to draw everything she sees in whatever piece of material is available. She drew almost everything that happens about the people around her, during the long years of journey, who were all just trying to survive in that extraordinary time. It is through great love, incredible strength and hope that Lina survives.

This is my first book from Ruta Sepetys and I loved it. I liked the way the book was written. I personally found it very powerful. I had tears in my eyes at some point.

So if you haven’t read it yet, please do. It’s krasivaya!

Quotable Quotes :

“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.”

“Sometimes there is such beauty in awkwardness.”

“Was it harder to die, or harder to be the one who survived?”

“Whether love of friend, love of country, love of God, or even love of enemy—love reveals to us the truly miraculous nature of the human spirit.”

“I planted a seed of hatred in my heart. I swore it would grow to be a massive tree whose roots would strangle them all.”

Rating : 5/5

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

He suddenly disappeared. No explanation. Four years later, Julia has a letter that might lead her to him… Book #17.

This is the story of Julia who traveled to Burma in search of the truth behind her father’s disappearance. In Burma, she met U Ba and learned of the story of Tin Win and Mi Mi. If I continue to tell more about the story, I would surely spoil it for you so I won’t say anything more.

I have never heard of Jan-Philipp Sendker before but I will surely look for more of his books. He knows well how to write a very inspiring story. And this book speaks of that — inspiration, life, love, heartbreak, loss, hope and believing.

The simplicity of the prose and the passages in this book were beautifully written. It may even sound old-fashioned yet it is so powerful.

A must-read!

Quotable Quotes :

“Life is a gift full of riddles in which suffering and happiness are inextricably intertwined. Any attempt to have one without the other was simply bound to fail.”

“Love makes us beautiful. Do you know a single person who loves and is loved, who is loved unconditionally and who, at the same time, is ugly? There’s no need to ponder the question. There is no such person.”

“Only a few days earlier he had explained to her that he did not merely read books but traveled with them, that they took him to other countries and unfamiliar continents, and that with their help he was always getting to know new people, many of whom even became his friends.”

“We wish to be loved as we ourselves would love. Any other way makes as uncomfortable. We respond with doubt and suspicion. We misinterpret the signs. We do not understand the language. We accuse. We assert that the other person does not love us. But perhaps he merely loves us in some idiosyncratic way that we fail to recognize.”

“…there are wounds time does not heal, though it can reduce them to a manageable size.”

Rating : 5/5

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Book #16.

This amazing book is the story of Ove, an old man with a Saab, who’s never afraid to tell people about what he thinks whether you want to hear it or not. Though Ove pretty much acts like a grumpy old man, he was never annoying to me. He’s not the kind of person you’d want to come across with in the beginning but the more pages you read, the more you will love him. Ove has a big heart and helps people in his own different way.  I don’t know how to say it but there’s something irresistible about him.

The plot goes to and fro the past and present to help us understand why Ove behaves the way he does. It talks about everyday events but will not make you bored in any way. It’s an easy read that will make you laugh out loud or pull your heartstrings every now and then.

To make a long story short, this book is something that will make you appreciate the people around you, and the animals, too, and that small things really matter a lot. At some point, my heart hurts but in a good way. And I don’t think I’d ever look at a quiet, reticent person the same way ever again.

Quotable Quotes :

“Loving someone is like moving into a house. At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you weren’t actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this. Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection, but rather its imperfections. You get to know all the nooks and crannies. How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it’s cold outside. Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without their creaking. These are the little secrets that make it your home.”

“Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it’s often one of the great motivations for the living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”

“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if'”

“All roads lead to something you were predestined to do.”

“He was a man of black and white. And she was color. All the color he had.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Book #14. Another Neil Gaiman.

Stardust-book-cover-neil-gaiman-30954835-325-474

Stardust is about Tristran Thorn who promised Victoria Forester that he will retrieve a fallen star on the other side of the Wall. On this other side of the Wall, fallen stars are beautiful girls whose hearts are taken by witches. The book chronicles Tristran’s adventures from talking trees, unicorns, witches and a lot more.

The book wasn’t too fast-paced but not too slow as well. It makes you wonder just like his other books. It’s nice and entertaining to read. The last forty pages or so were the best parts for me. I also liked the characters the way I liked the characters in his other books. The bantering between Tristran and Yvaine were fun. I just enjoy bantering between characters in books. 🙂

I don’t know if other readers will agree but I think the ending was perfect. It’s bittersweet but I think it’s the best way to end the book. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

All in all, it’s another good read!

Quotable Quotes :

“She says nothing at all, but simply stares upward into the dark sky and watches, with sad eyes, the slow dance of the infinite stars.”

“He stared up at the stars: and it seemed to him then that they were dancers, stately and graceful, performing a dance almost infinite in its complexity. He imagined he could see the very faces of the stars; pale, they were, and smiling gently, as if they had spent so much time above the world, watching the scrambling and the joy and the pain of the people below them, that they could not help being amused every time another little human believed itself the center of its world, as each of us does.”

“He wondered how it could have taken him so long to realize he cared for her, and he told her so, and she called him an idiot, and he declared that it was the finest thing that ever a man had been called.”

“It’s not hard to own something. Or everything. You just have to know that it’s yours, and then be willing to let it go.”

“Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at the stars because we are human?”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

zafon_bBook #13. My first Carlos Ruiz Zafon read. Another recommendation from my Goodreads friend, Julie. 🙂

Hidden in the very heart of Barcelona is the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and one cold morning, a bookseller brings his son, Daniel, to this cemetery where he can choose one book for himself. He should keep it and make sure not to lose it. He soon found a book he wanted, The Shadow of the Wind, and this changed his life forever.

This book has romance, cruelty and betrayal in it but a lot of funny moments as well. I enjoyed every page and all the characters. Fermin Romero de Torres is my favorite character here. He was initially introduced as a homeless man but later became Daniel’s sidekick! 🙂

I totally enjoyed this book and I think there’s nothing left to say that hasn’t been said already. I hope to find the prequel, The Angel’s Game.

So anyone reading this who hasn’t read the book yet, find a copy and read it. You won’t be disappointed.

Quotable Quotes :

“The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you’ve already stopped loving that person forever.”

“Memories are worse than bullets.”

“Destiny is usually just around the corner. Like a thief, a hooker, or a lottery vendor: its three most common personifications. But what destiny does not do is home visits. You have to go for it.”

“Sometimes we think people are like lottery tickets, that they’re there to make our most absurd dreams come true.”

“So long as we are being remembered, we remain alive.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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       Kiss a lover,
       Dance a measure,
       Find your name
       And buried treasure.

       Face your life,
       Its pain,
       Its pleasure,
       Leave no path untaken.

 

 

Book #11. My second Neil Gaiman read.

This is the story of Nobody Owens, a boy raised by an entertaining cast of ghosts in a graveyard because his family was murdered when he was still a toddler. Mr. & Mrs. Owens who died centuries ago became his adoptive parents while Silas became his guardian.

I enjoyed most of the characters and I love everything about Silas and Miss Lupescu. I also like how the author gave life to Bod growing up with the dead. I didn’t like Scarlett that much but that’s fine. If there’s one complain I have for this book though, it’s that I wish we knew more of the stories of Silas, Miss Lupescu and Liza Hempstock.

It’s a very engaging read all throughout the chapters and is fast-paced. Several themes were dealt with like change, taking risks, childhood, growing up, things we lose, things we gain, bravery, courage, etc. It’s full of those little details that will make you think back about life one way or the other.

There’s definitely a lot to learn from this wonderful, quick read. And now I’m looking forward to my next Neil Gaiman book.

Quotable Quotes : 

“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.”

“And he waited. It was only for a few seconds, but it felt like a small forever.”

“If I come back, it will be a place, but it won’t be a home any longer.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Everyone probably knows what Fight Club is about, if not from the movie (starring Brad Pitt & Edward Norton), then probably from the book itself. My tenth read this year… fight club

This is my first Chuck Palahniuk read so I didn’t know what to expect. The reviews in Goodreads were quite convincing and I found a copy of it online and so I decided to go with it.

And I was not disappointed. It is a good book.

It wasn’t difficult to read this since the chapters weren’t very long though the pacing was a bit slow for me. But if you’re really into the story, you can finish it in a day.

The main characters were the narrator who was never named, Tyler Durden and the uninteresting character, Marla. I would have given this book a 5 if not for her. But overall, this is a wonderful read, the kind that will mess your mind. Maybe I can also watch the movie this time around. 🙂

There’s nothing more to say that’s haven’t been said yet about this book and besides, the first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club. 😉 So I’ll let the ratings speak for itself.

Quotable Quotes:

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”

“At the time, my life just seemed too complete, and maybe we have to break everything to make something better out of ourselves.”

“Only after disaster can we be resurrected. It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything. Nothing is static, everything is evolving, everything is falling apart.”

“I don’t want to die without any scars.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Another achingly sweet, cute, light read from Stephanie Perkins!

I liked Cricket Bell! Truly the boy next door — shy, caring, sweet. But St. Clair still comes first. 🙂 I liked Lola in the beginning then started not to like her towards the middle then liked her again towards the end. I can’t relate much to her personally but I still find her character interesting. I loved the gay dads, too!

I can’t say I liked this as much as Anna and the French Kiss but I’m giving it 4 stars just the same. I’m really liking Ms. Perkins’ writing style and though there were things I didn’t like about this book (same with the first one), I still adore it. It’s predictable but if you just read it as it is, you’ll really enjoy it.

Favorite quotes: 

“I love his laugh. It’s rare, so whenever I hear it, I know I’ve earned it.”

“I just want to be a part of your life. Again.”

“Perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.“ I smile. “You don’t think I’m perfect?” “No. You’re delightfully screwy, and I wouldn’t have you any other way.”

“Just because something isn’t practical doesn’t mean it’s not worth creating. Sometimes beauty and real-life magic are enough.”

“Sometimes a mistake isn’t a what. It’s a who.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I would have finished this book in one sitting but a lot of things got in the way. Thankfully, I’m almost settled already and I was finally able to finish it a couple of days back. So… Anna and the French Kiss. Sweet, cute and funny read. Learned a lot about Paris and the French. It started off slow and  at some point, I felt like I might be too old for this book but I enjoyed my high school life and everyone’s got their own high school drama and so I went on.

Etienne St. Clair is a new favorite character. I didn’t enjoy Anna’s character at first but it got better towards the end. All the characters are believable so I think that’s what I like the most about this book. (Though I doubt there’s still a lot of Etienne out there!)

I did have some problems about this book but I liked it. The book was too predictable for me but it’s okay. There were parts where I found it too immature but then, it’s written for the younger crowd, and it’s pretty normal anyway to act immature when you’re young. 🙂

By the way, I liked Stephanie Perkins’ writing style.

Favorite quotes:

“So what do I wish for? Something I’m not sure I want? Someone I’m not sure I need? Or someone I know I can’t have?”

“Girl scouts didn’t teach me what to do with emotionally unstable drunk boys.”

“Why is it that the right people never wind up together? Why are people so afraid to leave a relationship, even if they know it’s a bad one?”

“There’s only one thing I don’t love about him. Her.”

“For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we’re finally home.”

Rating : 4/5 American-British-French stars!

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

This is my first Colleen Hoover read and I really loved it!!! 

This book really blew me away! I didn’t expect this to be so good! This is my first Colleen Hoover read and I really, really loved it! From the beginning of the book, you will love the characters and the storyline right away. It’s one of those books that can make you feel so much and talk about it all day with anyone.

I felt happy, I felt sad. I fell in love, I got my heartbroken. I felt angry. I felt betrayed. But I loved how it all came together in the end. I had major butterflies the whole time I was reading this — so cheesy here and there! 🙂

I liked reading from both of the main characters’ perspective. It seemed like these two were just talking right in front of me and it just felt so natural. The chemistry between them was just there.

I don’t know what else to say, I just really, seriously, loved this book a lot! It still makes me smile every time I’m reminded of it. It’s been a while since a book made me roll when it starts becoming cheesy and experiencing that again while reading November 9 was truly a wonderful feeling! I’m really glad I picked this up the moment I saw it in the shelves.

Highly recommended! 🙂

Favorite quotes :

“It’s as if the world chooses this moment to go silent.”

“A body is simply a package for the true gifts inside.”

“You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.”

“When you find love, you take it. You grab it with both hands and you do everything in your power not to let it go. You can’t just walk away from it and expect it to linger until you’re ready for it.”

“If we’re going to kiss, it has to be book-worthy.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

I have now read all three of Gillian Flynn’s books and sometimes I can’t help but wonder what happened to her while growing up? 🙂 She’s probably the master of dark mysteries.

So in Dark Places, when Libby Day was seven years old, her mother and two sisters were murdered and his brother, Ben Day, was blamed for killing them and so he was jailed and sentenced to life imprisonment. More than twenty years later, Libby will reconnect with the people involved that night the murders happened.

Gillian Flynn is definitely a very talented writer and she knows very well how to create tortured souls and crazy women. The opening sentence in the book hooked me right away:

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.”

Then not far from it comes this:

“I was not a lovable child, and I’d grown into a deeply unlovable adult. Draw a picture of my soul, and it’d be a scribble with fangs.”

Ms. Flynn is one of my favorite authors/writers since I’ve read Gone Girl. All of her novels are great and quite dark in different ways but I really enjoy them and in Dark Places I liked how the uncertainty of it made the story and characters turned out so well.

So for people looking for dark themes — lies, secrets, devil worship, desperation — read this. And all of Gillian Flynn’s books. You will never be disappointed.

Favorite quotes:

“The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty – we all have it.”

“Worries find you easily enough without inviting them.”

“It’s a good enough life for me… can’t imagine wanting anything different.”

“I appreciate a straightforward apology the way a tone-deaf person enjoys a fine piece of music.”

“There were a lot of people who deserved a lesson, deserved to really understand, that nothing came easy, that most things were going to go sour.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The first time I started reading Station Eleven, I closed and returned it back to my shelf when I reached page 3. I tried it again a few days back and I’m glad I persisted.


The story loops around the past and the present and then back again. The very skillful plotting of Station Eleven gave way to knowing each character more and what the characters think of the others. It’s how these characters are related that made this book really interesting for me (and no zombie in sight!). Their stories fit together perfectly and it’s really fascinating to see them all fall into place.

This is an amazing read that I finished it asking myself do people ever realize life while they live it? Hmmm…

Station Eleven may have started in darkness but it ended with a beam of hope.

Favorite quotes:

“Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

“Survival is insufficient.”

“The more you remember, the more you’ve lost.”

“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”

“The beauty of this world where almost everyone was gone. If hell is other people, what is a world with almost no people in it?”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

This novel spans the 80-year life of Rachel Kalama, who was born in Honolulu where when she was seven, she was taken away from her family and lived most of her life in involuntary exile on Moloka’i as a leper. In this island where lives are supposed to end, Rachel’s life begins.

molokai

I enjoyed Rachel’s character and everyone else’s in this book. Rachel refuses to let her condition get in the way of a life well-lived. Seeing her grow up with leprosy along with her new-found family and friends made it an interesting read though I teared up here and there.

Alan Brennert evidently researched quite well since a lot of historical facts intertwines with the story which gave me a snapshot of Hawaii in the past.

Given its rich history and well-developed characters, this story will stay with me for a long time.

Favorite quotes: “There’s only one disadvantage, really, to having two mothers… You know twice the love… but you grieve twice as much.”

“With wonder and a growing absence of fear she realized, I am more than I was an hour ago.”

“But there was still a bottomless hole inside her, and she began to think that there always would be.”

“I’ve come to believe that how we choose to live with pain, or injustice, or death….is the true measure of the Divine within us.”

“Fear is good. In the right degree it prevents us from making fools of ourselves. But in the wrong measure it prevents us from fully living. Fear is our boon companion but never our master.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

My Top 5 Reads of 2015

I had a wonderful reading adventure in 2015 and I managed to read 55 books! And so today, in no particular order, I would like to share the top 5 most memorable, most entertaining, most touching and most awesome books I have read:

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand 

This is the story of Louis Zamperini, a young and promising Olympic runner from Torrance, California and served as a bomber crew in the Pacific during the second World War.

As a bombardier, Louie was in-charge of locating the targets while in flight. He and his crewmates had terrifying experiences during their missions until one day, they had to fly in the crippled plane Green Hornet in order to save their friends. The plane went down in the Pacific and only three of them survived thus where the real story started.

What Louis went through as the plane went down in the Pacific and as a POW would have broken other people but not him. He remained “unbroken” to the very end.

This is an amazing story and very well-written. I highly, highly recommend it to everyone!

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I read this while I was vacationing in Vietnam and it was really the perfect time and place to read this book. It was recommended to me by one of my friends in Goodreads and bought it right away when I saw it in the bookstore. I’m not a big fan of fantasy novels but I definitely enjoyed this.

The Night Circus is about magic, love, desire & imagination. The main story is about two magicians, Marco & Celia, who were committed by their guardians to a mysterious competition designed to end in death.

The circus known as Le Cirque de Reves felt so real and alive, it makes you feel you are there in that magical world.

This is a real page-turner and yes, I definitely recommend it to everyone, old and young! 🙂

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

I think everyone knows the plot of this book already so I don’t have to bother describing and yes, it’s one of my top reads this year! I love Amy! Funny and smart bitch! Haha!

This is the kind of book that’s nearly impossible to put down. I enjoyed every page of it and surprisingly, I liked the movie, too! I’m no fan of movies based on books because I’m often disappointed in them (except for LOTR) but in the case of Gone Girl, it was okay.

So if you haven’t read this yet, read it. It’s twisted & disturbing but irresistible.

4. Stoner by John Williams

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Stoner is a plain and realistic human drama. Nothing much happensin the story and it lacks that “excitement” most people look for in a book nowadays BUT it is so deep, significant, captivating, saddening & depressing as hell.

This is not a big, life-changing kind of book but it might be a good reminder to everyone that people are important and that your contribution to the world doesn’t have to be something huge, it just have to be relevant and meaningful.

5. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin 

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I have only read two epic fantasy books, The Lord of the Rings (of course!) and this! I regret that I didn’t read this right away. This is just so awesome! The many different plots will keep you want to read more, not to mention the multiple POVs. George R.R. Martin was so adept in giving life to all the characters and for me, the direwolves are the coolest! 🙂

I’m quite surprised at how much I love this book, really! That feeling while you read this book is just different, I don’t know, like you’re transported to another world, excellently made world! I just love this book to pieces! A Clash of Kings? Yes, please.

Honorable mentions go to:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

How about you? What are your favorites this year? Any recommendations? I’d be glad to hear from you!

Happy new year homo sapiens!!!

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I really think that this book is a simple story but written so well. Father and son walking along burned America who have nothing except each other, a cart of scavenged food and a pistol trying to survive. It wasn’t explained in the book what exactly happened but I like the idea of it not being told.

This left me asking myself questions like how will I react if I were in the same situation? Am I strong enough to endure the same? How much did the father value his life and his son’s? Why did he choose to go on despite of the hopelessness of the situation?   Are people naturally good or bad?

I can’t express myself more in writing about what else I think about this book, however, few books can make me feel and think so much. And this just did.

Favorite quotes :

You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.

People were always getting ready for tomorrow. I didn’t believe in that. Tomorrow wasn’t getting ready for them. It didn’t even know they were there.

Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.

Keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden.

Rating : 5/5 stars

The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi

This book won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2013. The story of a young boy with a Christian name, an Arab surname, a Filipino face and a Kuwaiti passport.

It took me a while to finish reading this because I found it so slow-paced in the first half. It got a bit better afterwards but didn’t come up much with my expectations. Though I must say, it gave me a good laugh when he named the tortoise as Inang Choleng.

Rating : 2/5 stars

Book #52 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

The perfect read to end my 2015 Reading Challenge! Book #52…

 If you don’t have any idea about the Palestine-Israeli conflict, this book offers an excellent introduction about it and about the suffering of the people of Palestine.

1947 — the year that was — for the Jewish, the creation of their homeland, the state of Israel; for the Palestinians, the year their land was taken from them, the year they became refugees.

This is such a powerful story about the sufferings of the Palestinians in the hands of the Israelis that will leave you raging with emotions that I have to keep reminding myself that it was a work of fiction (though most happenings were based on facts).

A beautifully written book that gave me a different view about the Palestinian people and everything they have lost. It’s one of the most heart-breaking books I’ve ever read, I recommend it to everyone.

What a perfect read to complete my 2015 Reading Challenge! 🙂

Favorite quotes : ““Always” was a good word to believe in.”

“He brushed his lips against mine, pulled me closer, and I felt as if I had lived all my life for that kiss.”

“I was a word drained of its meaning. A woman emptied of her past. The truth is that I wanted to be someone else.”

“Baba’s absence since the war had grown as big as the ocean and all its fishes. As big as the sky and earth and all their birds and trees. The hurt in my heart was as big as the universe and all its planets.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Book #51 – 2015 Reading Challenge – The Giver by Lois Lowry

I knew nothing going into this book except that it is another book turned into a movie with Taylor Swift in it. 🙂 Book #51 for my 2015 Reading Challenge… IMG_7365

This is a fast-paced and no lulls book with a very well-described setting which makes it a very interesting read for me. Its concept is very engaging. It’s very effective in making my brain think and ask questions. A well-written book for both children and adult. It makes you realize the importance of making your own choices and not letting others make the choices for you.

This is my first experience with Lois Lowry and I’m looking forward for more.

Favorite quotes : “The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

“We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.”

““I feel sorry for anyone who is in a place where he feels strange and stupid.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Book #47 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Paper Towns by John Green

My third John Green novel is Book #47 for my 2015 Reading Challenge.

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Quentin and Margo have been neighbors since they were two years old. Q is an average high school kid with few good friends and is secretly in love with Queen Bee Margo (or with his idea of her).

So one night, a month before graduation, Margo climbs to Q’s windows and tagged him to a revengeful night of adventure. At first, Quentin was nervous about Margo’s plans but soon started to enjoy it as well, thus, it made him think that he could reconnect with Margo again just like when they were younger.

The next day, Margo’s missing. This lead Q and his friends to an adventure of a lifetime.

This book is written from Q’s perspective and so there’s a lot of teenage boy nonsense but very realistic of how teenage boys are. 🙂 It’s hilarious. And insightful. Though I can’t connect much with Q, I was able to enjoy his friends, Ben and Radar. All their clever comments and trash talk were LOL-worthy.

I want to say more about this book but a reread would be good I think before I can express myself more. Even so, this is a thought-provoking read with characters of different personalities and issues you can pretty much relate to, after all, we’ve all been teenagers once. 🙂

Favorite quotes : “What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”

“Talking to a drunk person was like talking to an extremely happy, severely brain-damaged three-year-old.”

“I’m starting to realize that people lack good mirrors. It’s so hard for anyone to show us how we look, & so hard for us to show anyone how we feel.”

“I love you. Not like a sister loves a brother or like a friend loves a friend. I love you like a really drunk guy loves the best girl ever.”

“Peeing is like a good book in that it is very, very hard to stop once you start.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Book #46 – 2015 Reading Challenge – I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Book #46 for my 2015 Reading Challenge is my first Gayle Forman novel…

Well, this isn’t a terrible novel but I also didn’t find anything remarkable about it. It’s my first Gayle Forman read and I feel sad that I ended up disappointed. I had high expectations before reading this one because of the many great reviews. The characters didn’t appeal much to me and it would probably have been better if Scottie was a main character since he was the most intelligent among them. Cody, on the other hand, is the worst best friend character I’ve ever read. Enough said.

Anyhow, I won’t tell you don’t read this. Read it. It might be disappointing for me but it could be a great read for you.

Favorite quote : “…I don’t want to lose you because of the fucked-up way I found you.”

Rating : 2/5 stars

Book #45 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami

Book #45 for my 2015 Reading Challenge is a collection of short stories from my favorite author, Haruki Murakami…

This book is a collection of short stories set in different venues and features different themes/subjects like cats, monkeys, a firefly, jazz, friendship, chance, death, loss, etc. Out of these stories, some of my favorites or some that leave a deeper impression to me are The Mirror, The Year of Spaghetti, The Ice Man, Chance Traveller, Toni Takitani and Firefly.

Murakami’s short stories (and novels) make you dream differently. He’s able to bring out the magic of everyday life, he makes you see the extraordinary even in the most mundane situation. To cut the story short, there are no ordinary stories when told by Murakami.

Favorite quotes : “There are ways of dying that don’t end in funerals. Types of death you can’t smell.”

“Thinking about spaghetti that boils eternally but is never done is a sad, sad thing.”

“I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.”

“I may be the type who manages to grab all the pointless things in life but lets the really important things slip away.”

“What I saw wasn’t a ghost. It was simply — myself. I can never forget how terrified I was that night, and whenever I remember it, this thought always springs to mind: that the most frightening thing in the world is our own self.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Book #44 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Life is what you make of it and Book #44 in my 2015 Reading Challenge made me realize to start making more of mine…

This book really hits you in the heart. Total tearjerker. It’s an amazing story about life and death and love and everything in between. It made me laugh but it also made me cry.

Will Traynor (Oh, Will!!!) and Lou Clark are very likable characters, unlikely but interesting pair brought together by circumstance. I really enjoyed how their relationship changed and grew because it’s very realistic.

The controversial issue of euthanasia was very carefully dealt with by Ms. Moyes in this novel. I already had an opinion about this topic even before I knew about this book and that still hasn’t changed. I strongly believe that a person with a fatal illness/disease or something like Will’s has the right to choose to die in their own terms. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m entitled to my own opinion, let me know yours in the comment section. I’d love to hear them.) It was very dramatic how Ms. Moyes presented this issue up to the later part of this book, making Lou look for every possible way to let Will change his mind, keeping her hopeful and letting her be more attached to him. Little does she know that Will had firmly made his decision.

This story will definitely stay with me for a long time and continue to reflect/contemplate about it. I don’t know how it’s like to live a life being once a man-of-the-world suddenly turned into a quadriplegic where you have to live the rest of your life in a wheelchair but somehow, the author managed to make us feel that while reading this book. It leaves me with sadness but inspires me to step back a little and have a look at my own life.

If you haven’t read this book, do yourself a favor… Read —  and feel it — because sometimes, six months can be the best six months of your life.

Favorite quotes : “Push yourself. Don’t Settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.”

“Some mistakes… Just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let the result of one mistake be the thing that defines you. You, Clark, have the choice not to let that happen.”

“…I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn’t have met, and who didn’t like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other.”

“The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life — or at least, shoved up so hard against someone else’s life that you might as well have your face pressed against their window — is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.”

“I am conscious that knowing me has caused you pain, and grief, and I hope that one day when you are less angry with me and less upset you will see not just that I could only have done the thing that I did, but also that this will help you live a really good life, a better life, than if you hadn’t met me.”

Rating : 5/5 heartbreakingly beautiful stars