The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

ivan ilyich coverThe Death of Ivan Ilyich is a novella that begins at the end — the death of Ivan Ilyich. We are then carried back to the years of his youth and other life experiences until he gained the position of a judge in a city. Unfortunately, he fell and hurt his side one day while furnishing his house. He didn’t think of the fall as a big deal and so went on with life, as usual. Little did he know that this incident will cause a big impact in his life.

I find Ivan Ilyich’s character boring but Leo Tolstoy has a way of making the reader feel what the character is feeling. He lets us feel Ilyich’s frustrations as a man nearing his death at the age of forty-five. We feel his anger, fear and irritation as well as his annoyance towards his family who don’t see his death as imminent.

This is a novella that contains so much. It’s a story that leaves you thinking and questioning about the life you are living. Is it right to just live according to the rules? Is having a full-time job giving your life its true meaning? Is keeping up with the society’s expectations enough to say we are living a good life? It’s mostly the same things that Ivan Ilyich asked himself as he looked back in his life while on his death bed and when he came across honest answers to his questions, he found peace and accepted his death.

Quotable Quotes:

“Always the same. Now a spark of hope flashes up, then a sea of despair rages, and always pain; always pain, always despair, and always the same. When alone he had a dreadful and distressing desire to call someone, but he knew beforehand that with others present it would be still worse.”

“Death is finished, he said to himself. It is no more!”

“It can’t be that life is so senseless and horrible. But if it really has been so horrible and senseless, why must I die and die in agony? There is something wrong!”

“There was no deceiving himself: something terrible, new, and more important than anything before in his life, was taking place within him of which he alone was aware.”

“It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false”

Rating: 4/5 stars

Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez book coverMemories of My Melancholy Whores is a novella about an old man who has seen much but enjoyed very little specially in human connections and has isolated himself from people as he grows old. He had lived two lives in parallel: first as a journalist and second, as a regular client in brothels. By the age of 50, he had slept with 514 women, all paid one way or the other.

On the eve of the unnamed narrator’s ninetieth birthday, he wanted to treat himself with a wild night of love with an adolescent virgin.

I somehow pity the old man living such a long but loveless life, though, some spark of hope of true love awakes when he saw and watched the teenage virgin sleeping the night it was arranged by the brothel owner for him.

I read this book twice in two days. I didn’t quite like it the first time and felt like I was missing something so I read it again the morning after. It’s a very short read that I finished both times in one sitting. Of course, I appreciated it more the second time as much more meaning emerged.

This is a very short read about watching an adolescent virgin sleeping, nothing so particular to expect but not one to bore you neither and some parts of the story will creep some of you out but there’s much more in the story that will make you continue reading. Add to that the wonderful writing style of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, wonderful and easy to read.

Quotable Quotes:

“No matter what, nobody can take away the dances you’ve already had.”

“Age isn’t how old you are but how old you feel.”

“Just as real events are forgotten, some that never were can be in our memories as if they happened.”

“Sex is the consolation you have when you can’t have love.”

“There’s no greater misfortune than dying alone.”

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

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As someone who’s not for motivational self-help books, I was a bit reluctant to buy this but since I was on vacation and I needed something short and light to read, not to mention it’s cheap, I’ve decided to give it a go.

Nothing in this book is new to us. Insights on how we react or deal with the changes we face. The world changes whether we want it or not. The ideas are extremely important and useful, sure, but it’s just obvious common sense. I mean the book is okay, however, I’ve became so accustomed to change already which is probably why it didn’t create a huge impact on me. It doesn’t mean though that I’m good at dealing with it, no, but somehow, I’ve learned to expect it. I think that how it affects all of us differs depending on the situation we are in in life and how far we have been pushed when faced by change.

I’m not sure my bad mood affected how I thought about this book as I’ve read this from start to finish while in the tour van on the way back to Tbilisi with the most boring tour guide and tour group. Some people may enjoy reading this, some may not. And some should.

Quotable Quotes:

“What you are afraid of is never as bad as what you imagine. The fear you let build up in your mind is worse than the situation that actually exists.”

“He knew sometimes some fear can be good. When you are afraid things are going to get worse if you don’t do something, it can prompt you into action. But it is not good when you are afraid that it keeps you from doing anything.”

“Sometimes, things change and they are never the same again. This looks like one of those times. That’s life! Life moves on. And so should we.”

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Rating: 2/5 stars

Night by Elie Wiesel

nightBook #9.

I’ve always loved learning about the world war and people’s stories during those times, particularly the Holocaust and Night is one of such stories. And every time I read about it, I wonder how I would have fared if I were born a Jew in a Nazi-occupied country during the second World War.

This is a first person account of Elie Wiesel, a teenage Jew from Transylvania, Romania. Elie and his family were soon brought to concentration camps in Auschwitz (later in Buchenwald) and were separated from each other. He tells of the unimaginable horrors that he and the others experienced during the war including people being thrown in the crematory particularly babies.

I personally think that it is extremely important that these events be never forgotten and this book serves as a dismal reminder of human’s capacity to be inhuman to humanity itself. A book you should make a point of reading.

Quotable Quotes :

“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

“Every question possessed a power that was lost in the answer.”

“I shall always remember that smile. What world did it come from?”

“One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live.”

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. Still, all in all, it’s a good 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 : 3/5 stars

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

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This is a beautifully written novella about a man’s love for his wife, his son and his grandson. He is slowly losing his memory while loving the things he’s losing. A very short read that will make you sit back and appreciate life more.

Fredrik Backman had me in tears while reading this and he’s definitely one of my favorite authors now even though I’ve only read A Man Called Ove and this.

I absolutely recommend this to everyone because it’s a gem that will truly touch your heart. It will take very little of your time but a time well spent.

Quotable Quotes :

“That’s one good thing about forgetting things. You forget the things that hurt, too.”

“You never became ordinary to me, my love. You were electric shocks and fire.”

“I didn’t care why you said yes. Just that you stayed.”

“Humans are a strange breed in the way our fear of getting old seems to be even greater than our fear of dying.”

“You were never easy, darling difficult sulky you, never diplomatic. You might even have been easy to dislike at times. But no one, absolutely no one, would dare tell me you were hard to love.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice by Zak Ebrahim

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Zak Ebrahim was only 7 when his father El Sayyid Nosair shot Rabbi Meir Kahane, the leader of the Jewish Defense League in November 1990. His father also helped to plan the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 while he was in prison. Zak, together with his family, spent years visiting his father in prison until his mom finally decided to stop all communications with him. They also changed their names and his mom remarried.

This is a very quick and interesting read. Very inspiring as well as he did not grow up hating. Wonderful!

Quotable Quotes :

“I’m convinced that empathy is more powerful than hate and that our lives should be dedicated to making it go viral.”

“Everyone has a choice. Even if you’re trained to hate, you can choose tolerance. You can choose empathy.”

“Even people who’ve been raised on hate since birth, people whose minds have been warped and weaponized, can make a choice about who they want to be… People who have been victimized can understand more deeply than anyone how little the world needs more victims.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Free Will by Sam Harris

freewillBook #29.

Free Will by Sam Harris is an intense short read leaving us thinking why we do the things we do. I think that as humans, we feel like we are in control of ourselves, we make decisions and our lives are shaped according to the decisions we make. However, as startling as it may sound, I personally think and feel that we don’t have as much free will as we think we do. So I definitely agree with what Harris pointed out: free will is an illusion.

I advise you not to read this book if you’re not ready to entertain new thoughts. 🙂

World War 2: Waffen SS Soldier Stories: Eyewitness Accounts of Hitler’s Elite Troops

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Book #28.

I was distracted by grammatical errors in this book, however, anything that has to do with the war attracts me so I continued reading and I wasn’t disappointed.

This book offers a lot of very interesting information about World War 2 and the SS soldiers. I have always been interested of the SS soldiers so reading their side of the story during the war is a delight to me. Discovering a lot of things about them and what happened during these times made me even want for more.

The title may be a bit inaccurate but I don’t mind at all since the content was okay for me.

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

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Book #22. I am not a runner but picking a Murakami book is not unusual for me.

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This is a memoir of Murakami’s affair with long-distance running. He talks about the joy running brings to him, the places he visits and the things he do in preparation for the events, as well as the ups and downs of running. Moreover, he talked about the change running has done to him and how it helped in his writing.

I’ve read several books by Murakami and I love every single one of them. So reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is refreshing because I get to know more about the man behind all the madness! I didn’t know that he is a dedicated runner, joined 25 marathons and also entered the world of triathlon. He runs not to win events/races, he runs to stay healthy and active. He runs because he wants to. And through running, he developed endurance, dedication and focus which we can clearly see mirrored in his writing.

So whether you are a runner or not, a Murakami fan or not, I recommend you give some time to read this. Whatever your passion is, the book will in one way or the other motivate and inspire you.

Quotable Quotes :

“I’ve always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I’m wrong, but I won’t change.”

“When I’m running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. This is a part of my day I can’t do without.”

“In other words, let’s face it: Life is basically unfair. But even in a situation that’s unfair, I think it’s possible to seek out a kind of fairness. Of course, that might take time and effort. And maybe it won’t seem to be worth all that. It’s up to each individual to decide whether or not it is.”

“The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.”

“It doesn’t matter how old I get, but as long as I continue to live I’ll always discover something new about myself.”

Rating : 4/5

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Book #21.

The book is about Rachel Watson, an alcoholic who forgets things including what happened on that one crucial night. The night when Megan disappeared. Megan lives near Rachel’s previous home which she happens to pass by everyday on a train.

The story switches between three narrators: Rachel, Megan and Anna. All cleverly flawed characters! Rachel, a divorced alcoholic in her early thirties, obsessed with her husband and living with her friend (who doesn’t know Rachel got fired and is unemployed). Megan, the woman who disappeared, the woman Rachel sees everyday from the train. And Anna, the new wife of Tom, Rachel’s ex-husband.

The author, Paula Hawkins, without a doubt understands psychology and suspense. And she did a great job to make her readers despise the characters, I think!  I’m not sure if everyone will agree with me, but yes, I despise them all. However, I still have to say that I like the way the book was written, it just wasn’t enough for me.

So this isn’t exactly a book I’d recommend but maybe for people who wants to try suspense and psychological drama, this ain’t a bad choice.

Quotable Quotes :

“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.”

“The holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.”

“Life is not a paragraph, and death is no parenthesis.”

“They’re what I lost, they’re everything I want to be.”

“Nobody warned me it would break us. But it did. Or rather, it broke me, and then I broke us.”

Rating : 3/5

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

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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Book #18.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

This famous opening line begins the story of our unnamed heroine, the second Mrs. de Winter. Young and shy, she met the much older, wealthy widow, Maxim de Winter (I so love the name!). An unlikely friendship started and eventually, courtship followed.

They soon got married and went to Manderley where Mrs. de Winter found it difficult to fit in. Throughout the story, she’s in constant battle of Rebecca’s (Maxim’s first wife) legacy.

There’s much to enjoy in this book, however, I just wish there’s more about Rebecca. Ms. du Maurier made her sound so intriguing. Her presence is strongly felt in the novel but I think I didn’t get enough of her. Was she really a strong-willed woman or was she a psychopath or something? She somehow reminded me of Amy in Gone Girl. 🙂

I also think I have to mention Mrs. Danvers. I personally think she stood out the most among the characters. She’s creepy.

All in all, this book is beautifully written, great characters, terrific plot and pacing. And the ending? Awesome! Yes, I love the ending!

Anyway, I don’t read classics very often but I always find myself pleasantly surprised when I do. And maybe tonight, I’ll dream of Manderley again…

Quotable Quotes:

“If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again.”

“I suppose sooner or later in the life of everyone comes a moment of trial. We all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle in the end.”

“We’re not meant for happiness, you and I.”

“The moment of crisis had come, and I must face it. My old fears, my diffidence, my shyness, my hopeless sense of inferiority, must be conquered now and thrust aside. If I failed now I should fail forever.”

“I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say.”

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

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Naked truth? I love Colleen Hoover!

Book #15.

unnamedThis is the very first book I’ve read in my entire life where I didn’t even bother reading the synopsis first. I saw the title then the author. Must read!

This book really came to me at just the right time. I loved it from the very first page and somehow I can relate with Lily. I loved how determined she was in making her decisions and it was just a week or so when I myself had to make one of the biggest and most important decision in my life. I say I can relate with Lily because I am also very determined with the decision I just made, I had to make hard choices for the right reasons.

“Just because we didn’t end up on the same wave, doesn’t mean we aren’t still a part of the same ocean.”

It Ends with Us is just my second CoHo read but I can definitely say that I am now a really big fan of hers. The book is so real to me. Very honest. Very personal. And yes, it made me cry.

Colleen Hoover, thank you. You were able to put into words what a lot had failed to. And for that, thank you. I’ll just keep swimming for now… until I reach the shore.

Quotable Quotes:

“Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.”

“Maybe love isn’t something that comes full circle. It just ebbs and flows, in and out, just like the people in our lives.”

“Sometimes even grown women need their mother’s comfort so we can just take a break from having to be strong all the time.”

“Cycles exist because they are excruciating to break. It takes an astronomical amount of pain and courage to disrupt a familiar pattern. Sometimes it seems easier to just keep running in the same familiar circles, rather than facing the fear of jumping and possibly not landing on your feet.”

“I’m sure there’s more substance in the love between two adults than there is between two teenagers. There’s probably more maturity, more respect, more responsibility. But no matter how different the substance of a love might be at different ages in a person’s life, I know that love still has to weigh the same. You feel that weight on your shoulders and in your stomach and on your heart no matter how old you are.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Book #14. Another Neil Gaiman.

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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

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Book #12.

So… first it was Anna. Then, Lola. And now, here’s Isla. It took me quite a while to finish this book, not because it was boring or whatever, other things (and books) just got in the way.

Isla had been so in love with Josh though it took her quite a while to have enough courage to finally initiate a conversation with him. It happened at Kismet, a cafe in New York, and from there, the story unfolds.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the third and last book in this series and like the first two books, I think the very heart of it are the characters. They all seem real and yes, lovable. I didn’t expect to like Josh as much as I liked Etienne. And Isla was someone I know a lot of people can relate to. I definitely adored the romance between Josh and Isla. Kurt, Isla’s best friend, and of course, Hattie, were also notable characters.

Since I’ve been able to read all three books, I can say that Ms. Perkins definitely has a way of drawing the reader into her stories. It’s not too simple but also not too complex. I’ll certainly look forward to her other works.

The entire series isn’t all about love and pretty boys, but a story of life, people, flaws, insecurities and so on. It’s about how our thoughts, actions and words would shape us or ruin us. So whether you’ve read the first two books or not, you’ll enjoy this. And I think it’s a nice ending to this nice series.

Quotable Quotes :

“People say that the only thing that heals heartbreak is time. But how much time will it take?”

“There’s no story… I saw you one day, and I just knew.”

“He tastes like my deepest craving fulfilled.”

“Our fingers are in each other’s hair, and his breath is in the hollow of my neck, and I wish the world will swallow us here, whole, in this moment. And that’s when it hits me that this – this – is falling in love.”

“Phones are distracting. The internet is distracting.The way he looked at you? He wasn’t distracted. He was consumed.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

TheGraveyardBook_Hardcover

 

 

       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

Every Day by David Levithan

This year’s 9th book is my first David Levithan read…

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A soul, named A, is the main character in the story. He drifts from one body to another every single day of his life until one day, he found Rhiannon and fell in love with her. The idea of living a different life everyday while remaining true to who you really are is very moving and touching. A’s story is hauntingly beautiful. (He’s added in my list of favorite characters.)

This is pretty much a book about love and all those little things that we sometimes never think about in order to make those feelings work for us. So if you haven’t read this yet, find time to do so. Reading this was a delight in every way.

Quotable Quotes:

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: We all want everything to be okay. We don’t even wish so much for fantastic or marvelous or outstanding. We will happily settle for okay, because most of the time, okay is enough.”

“There will always be more questions. Every answer leads to more questions. The only way to survive is to let some of them go.”

“The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations – all of them rearranging themselves so this precise, remarkable intersection could happen. In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is, you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are just now arriving at the place you were always meant to be.”

“If you stare at the center of the universe, there is coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other.”

“I am a drifter, and as lonely as that can be, it is also remarkably freeing. I will never define myself in terms of anyone else. I will never feel the pressure of peers or the burden of parental expectation. I can view everyone as pieces of a whole, and focus on the whole, not the pieces. I have learned to observe, far better than most people observe. I am not blinded by the past or motivated by the future. I focus on the present because that is where I am destined to live.”

Rating : 5/5 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

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Goodness gracious! I love Rainbow Rowell! I love, love, love Rainbow Rowell! I loved Carry On!

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As I have mentioned several times before, I don’t read/like fantasy as much as I read/like contemporary stories. I don’t like reading about someone who will save mankind or in this book, a chosen one. However, this just worked very well for me. So well! 🙂

All the three main characters (I love Baz the most!) were interesting enough that they really got me into reading this book. The character development and the relationships were very interesting. And of course, the dialogues. The cute, silly banters were a lot of fun, Rainbow Rowell really struck me with her sarcastic wit. It really made me laugh-out-loud literally! :D:D:D I also can’t remember how many times it made me shout “just kiss already!” in my head while reading this. Oh Baz! I really adore you!

So, I loved this book. Even though I’m not a big fan of fantasy and chosen one stories, I was amazed by this one! It’s super gay. But I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. Simon and Baz’s relationship just shows that there really is a thin line between love and hate. 🙂

Favorite quotes :

“He held himself up on all fours above me and made me reach up for his mouth—and I did. I would again. I’d cross every line for him. I’m in love with him. And he likes this better than fighting.”

“Every thing is a story. And you are the hero. You sacrificed everything for me.”

“I wish I’d never figured it out. That I love him. It’s only ever been a torment.”

“One time, he pushed me down a flight of stairs. It was awesome.”

“It’s the good things that hurt when you’re missing them.”

Rating : 5/5 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

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