Things – A Short Story by Ali Al Sabah

     She was horrified when she knew that her husband wanted to get rid of everything useless and anything that no longer bring him happiness. Returning home on Thursday noon after quitting his job, he locked himself in the bedroom and emptied all the cabinets and drawers.
     He found a large amount of clothes that no longer fit him and some which he haven’t used for more than a year. Along with these clothes was his gown and cap. He discovered electronic devices dating way back to his childhood years; old phones and computers that already ceased to function. A stack of textbooks and an oud instrument. He found papers dating back to high school, some of which with Tupac’s song lyrics and some with scribbles he could no longer understand. A photo album of his travels captured by an instant camera. A collection of pirated CDs for songs and movies. A ceramic cup that reveals a picture of himself when poured with hot beverage, a birthday gift from a distant time. He found a Samsonite travel bag which he decided to keep unable to remember the last time he used it along with four others. An old copy of the family tree with some handwritten notes. A collection of coins from several countries. An old wallet and an expired passport. Accumulated receipts.
      As the sun sets that day, a pile of bags was amassed on the doorway. With The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho in hand to reread for the second time, he walked to the nearby Starbucks enjoying a feeling of lightness.
    On Friday morning, he gathered a number of watches, sunglasses, lighters and perfume bottles in a box. He went to the kitchen where he found lots of unused cooking equipment, utensils, and expired foods; mustard, pasta sauce, and an instant coffee. He continued circling the house in search of what else could be disposed. He also decided to break off from the long hours spent watching television and videos online. Getting rid of those things created a vast space in his brain that used to be crammed with chaos and was permanently bewildering him. The cloud of thoughts that had been haunting him almost daily for several years vanished. He prepared a quick lunch and then went back to Starbucks to continue reading the novel.
     He woke up early on Saturday and went for a run in the beach. When he returned home, he cooked the available food left for his lunch. He again went to Starbucks to read the book and left it there when he finished. Soon he’s back home and he took out the clothes he wanted to wear the following day.
     Morning came and he put on the clothes as soon as he woke up then headed to the airport.
~~~
This  is just one among the several short stories Ali Al-Sabah has written and I’m delighted to finally be able to read one because he generally writes in Arabic. So for my readers who are interested to read more of his works, click here
I’d be glad to know your thoughts about the story so feel free to drop a line or two in the comments. 
Have a wonderful week, homo sapiens!

Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami

danceBook #16.

Our nameless narrator from A Wild Sheep Chase is back once again in this book as he starts to feel nostalgic about the Dolphin Hotel in Sapporo where seemingly good things happened to him. Something from within him strongly urged him to have a vacation and visit the place again. On this trip starts a series of strange events.

Interestingly, the characters have names now, except for the narrator. 🙂 Most of the characters have a mysterious side in them. Kiki, who just disappeared. Gotanda, our narrator’s former classmate whom I felt like hiding something since the beginning but was an interesting character for me. Yuki, a thirteen-year-old psychic. (I really liked Yuki and the narrator’s bantering. Pretty much a comedy!) Yumiyoshi, the receptionist in the new Dolphin Hotel. The Sheep Man. And several others.

Dance Dance Dance addressed a lot of themes such as aging, death (a very common theme in Murakami’s books), life’s meaning, illusion, reality, boredom, the importance of human connection, etc. These are themes more inclined to the heavy side but still there are also moments that will make you smile and laugh.

Typical of Murakami’s works as well are the loose ends that he leaves us with. And for me, I am still left contemplating about who the sixth skeleton is. That scene where he was driving in Hawaii with Yuki and he suddenly saw Kiki and he soon came running after her and was led to a room with six skeletons. I can account to five but who’s the sixth? Is it the Sheep Man because he’s gone from the mysterious room of the Dolphin Hotel? Or is it the narrator himself? Anyhow, it’s sort of a happy ending.

Murakami is such a brilliant writer that he always, always makes me doubt which of these things happened and which did not. In any case, this was another surreal ride but for the meantime, I will have to take a break before I start dreaming about the skeletons or the Sheep Man…

Quotable Quotes :

“People have their own reasons for dying. It might look simple, but it never is. It’s just like a root. What’s above ground is only a small part of it. But if you start pulling, it keeps coming and coming. The human mind dwells deep in darkness. Only the person himself knows the real reason, and maybe not even then.”

“People fall in love without reason, without even wanting to. You can’t predict it. That’s love.”

“Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if possible, sincerely.”

“Friends don’t need the intervention of a third party. Friendship’s a voluntary thing.”

“People leave traces of themselves where they feel most comfortable, most worthwhile.”

Rating ; 4/5 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

Quote of the Week

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

-Epicurus

Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami

hear-the-wind-singBook #10.

Hear the Wind Sing was Murakami’s first novel, more like a novella actually because it’s very short, and you’d feel it even shorter because of its frequent page breaks.

It’s set in Japan with a nameless narrator on his summer break and his friend known as the Rat who struggles with his everyday life filled with loneliness.

The book isn’t something that lives up to the current Murakami standards. There ain’t much to its plot and it just goes on without anything clear going on. It’s pretty much a collection of the narrator’s encounters with the Rat, with J, and the girl with only nine fingers. Then his being nostalgic about his past relationships.

That said, it doesn’t mean though that I didn’t like this book. There’s no parallel universe in it but there’s a familiar tone. There’s always something interesting in a Murakami novel and as long as it’s read for what it is, you’ll never be disappointed.

Up next : Pinball, 1973

Quotable Quotes :

“There’s no such thing as perfect writing, just like there’s no such thing as perfect despair.”

“Sometimes, I imagine how great it would be if we could live our lives without bothering other people.”

“I like the sky. You can look at it forever and never get tired of it, and when you don’t want to look at it anymore, you stop.”

“…the wind has its reasons. We just don’t notice as we go about our lives. But then, at some point, we are made to notice. The wind envelops you with a certain purpose in mind, and it rocks you. The wind knows everything that’s inside you. And not just the wind. Everything, including a stone. They all know us very well. From top to bottom. It only occurs to us at certain times. And all we can do is go with those things. As we take them in, we survive, and deepen.

“Everyone who has something is afraid of losing it, and people with nothing are worried they’ll forever have nothing. Everyone is the same.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

download

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

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

downloadBook #6.

This basically follows the story of five characters — a 19-year old girl named Mari, Takahashi a jazz musician, Mari’s sister Eri who is in a very deep sleep, a Chinese prostitute assaulted in a “love hotel”, and a salary man, Shirakawa, who works late to avoid his family — one autumn night in Tokyo.

How Murakami-san managed to capture the happenings and feelings of time from midnight to dawn at a brisk but natural pace is amazing. Every beginning of a chapter shows a clock and as the night progresses, the story does, too. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters but I also didn’t hate any of them. But the point is probably not to like or hate them, but to connect to them which I think Murakami-san effectively did.

This is not as bizarre as his other works but neither it is a straight narrative. It stays surreal because Murakami-san doesn’t bother with explanations and in his world, nothing is simple.

After Dark ended far too quickly for me and as usual, I was left with too many unanswered questions. I would recommend you read this in a coffee shop, overnight, with cups of brewed coffee. And maybe some music, too. Well, if you haven’t yet! 😉

Quotable Quotes :

“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.”

“What seems like a reasonable distance to one person may feel too far to somebody else.”

“A brand-new day is beginning. It could be a day like all the others, or it could be a day remarkable enough in many ways to remain in the memory. In either case, for now, for most people, it is a blank sheet of paper.”

“…people’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They’re all just fuel.”

“The silence is so deep it hurts our ears.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

download

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.

img_3820

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_7257

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 

img_7575

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

Book # 48 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Stoner by John Williams

Another book that will stay with me for a long time… Book #48 for my 2015 Reading Challenge…

Stoner is a book that has nothing to do with marijuana or a drug addict. 🙂 It is actually the name of the book’s protagonist. 🙂

On the surface, it looks like a very simple tale. However, the simplicity of it masks the depth and brilliance that runs throughout the story. I personally enjoy books with real, believable characters and situations and this is certainly one of them. I can’t express well why I found this to be such a page-turner because it lacks that “excitement” most people look for in a book nowadays, but it is so deep, significant and captivating.

Being one of the finest books I’ve ever read, I hope you readers can get a chance to read it as well. It’s not that 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.

Favorite quotes :

“Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know.”

“…the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another.”

“You must remember what you are and what you have chosen to become, and the significance of what you are doing. There are wars and defeats and victories of the human race that are not military and that are not recorded in the annals of history. Remember that while you’re trying to decide what to do.”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Book #38 – 2015 Reading Challenge – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This is my first Neil Gaiman book so I didn’t know what to expect. I loved it nonetheless! neil gaiman

The story began when the unnamed narrator revisited his childhood home for a funeral and was drawn back to a farm where he met his one true friend and experienced a magical and haunting event when he was seven years old.

Not every child probably did this but when I was young, I like to imagine things differently from what they really are. I like thinking about them in a weird way that sometimes my memory get mixed up from what’s real and what’s not. The book somewhat depicts that. That sometimes, things are different from what we remember them to be.

Although this isn’t typically the kind of book I usually seek out to read, this made me smile. But it made me sad, too. It gave me something to think about. It even made my heart ache. So I think that’s enough reason to recommend this book and read more of Neil Gaiman’s works.

Favorite quotes : “I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.”

“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”

“You don’t pass or fail at being a person, dear.”

“I saw the world I had walked since my birth and I understood how fragile it was, that the reality was a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger.”

Rating : 5/5 stars