The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Book #23. (2016)

This is the most difficult Murakami read for me and it took me a long time to finish. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good book, it is actually a very good one, it just took me longer than usual to comprehend what Murakami is trying to tell me. 🙂 I’ve read somewhere that the English translation by Jay Rubin cut three chapters from the Japanese version. Maybe the deleted chapters would have helped me understand the book more. Anyhow…

I don’t know how to say this right but for me, the book isn’t a total page-turner compared to his other books. Not because the story isn’t interesting enough. It is actually very interesting, however, it took me time and effort to digest its content. Even halfway through the book, I still didn’t understand where the story is heading.

Toru Okada resigned from a job he finds meaningless, but also refused to get a job because it is what the society expects. And so begins Toru’s dropping out of the society. One day, he was cooking spaghetti. The phone rings. A mysterious caller. The cat disappeared. A few days later, his wife, Kumiko, disappeared as well. Toru drops further and further out while in search them. An ordinary start that lead to a very complex story. So, even if this was given to me without the author’s name on it, I would certainly identify that this is a Murakami work.

The Manchurian thread are the best parts of the book for me though I don’t really quite understand how it would resonate with the rest of the book. Or does it have to? And what exactly is he trying to say about the war? Is it to show the violence in Japan’s past? It’s one of the reasons I’m left unsure after I finished reading. Should the different plots fit together? Are they meant to fit together? Really, I’m not sure. The confusion, lack of closure and the loose ends are all probably a part of the plan.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone but would also advise you to read it when you have the time to commit. After reading this, you will never look normally at your cat again or the ordinariness of spaghetti. Man, I think I need another vacation… A vacation at the bottom of a well.

Quotable Quotes :

“People don’t always send messages in order to communicate the truth… just as people don’t always meet others in order to reveal their true selves.”

“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?”

“I realize full well how hard it must be to go on living alone in a place from which someone has left you, but there is nothing so cruel in this world as the desolation of having nothing to hope for.”

“A life without pain: it was the very thing I had dreamed of for years, but now that I had it, I couldn’t find a place for myself within it. A clear gap separated me from it, and this caused me great confusion. I felt as if I were not anchored to this world – this world that I had hated so passionately until then; this world that I had continued to revile for its unfairness and injustice; this world where at least I knew who I was. Now the world ceased to be the world, and I had ceased to be me.”

“Curiosity can bring guts out of hiding at times, maybe even get them going. But curiosity evaporates. Guts have to go for the long haul. Curiosity’s like an amusing friend you can’t really trust. It turns you on and then it leaves you to make it on your own – with whatever guts you can muster.”

Rating : 5/5

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

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris

Book #24.

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I was born and baptized as a Catholic but I have always been open-minded about other religions and yes, atheism. This is my first from Sam Harris and the first atheistic book I’ve read. I must say, this book is very thought-provoking. It isn’t something that would convert the reader to become an atheist nor would it shake a devout Christian/Muslim’s faith, but I think it would help us understand what atheists are like.

It would probably be an uncomfortable read but I personally would still recommend it to my Catholic/Christian friends. Aside from a very easy to read writing style, I really find this book very insightful. With that said, I’ll leave you with this:

Clearly, it is time we learned to meet our emotional needs with embracing the preposterous. We must find ways to invoke the power of ritual and to mark those transitions in every human life that demand profundity — birth, marriage, death — without lying to ourselves about the nature of reality. Only then will the practice of raising our children to believe that they are Christian, Muslim, or Jewish be widely recognized as the ludicrous obscenity that it is. And only then will we have a chance of healing the deepest and most dangerous fractures in our world. -Sam Harris

Rating : 4/5

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 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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Book #11. My second Neil Gaiman read.

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

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

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

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

Quotable Quotes : 

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

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

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

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

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

Rating : 5/5 stars

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quotable Quotes:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating : 4/5 stars

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

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

I’m back! After a two-month reading hiatus, I’m glad I’m starting to get back on track. I planned to read 25 books this year and so far, I’ve only finished 7 until early March. I’ve finished my 8th book just yesterday and I think I can focus on my reading once again.

So, for my 8th book:

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This was recommended to me by a friend in Goodreads and I’m glad to have found a copy of it online. 🙂

This book is about Harry August, a man called a kalachakra – a person reborn over and over at the same point in time with all his knowledge of his previous lives still intact giving him a chance to avoid his mistakes in the past and make or build a better understanding of the past, present or future.

On Harry’s eleventh life, however, while on his deathbed (again), a girl came to him and warned him that the world is ending. And this is where the real story kicked in.

Though time travel isn’t really a brand new concept nowadays, it being my first of its kind is probably why I enjoyed this book. The author also covered a lot of interesting themes such as living a good or bad life, doing what is right or wrong, technological advances and its effect in our daily lives, etc.

I’m happy I’ve read this book ending my reading hiatus, it leaves me thinking about how we can give life more meaning.

Quotable Quotes:

“I know now that there is something dead inside me though I cannot remember exactly when it died.”

“You know everyone breaks, Harry. Everyone.”

“Our actions… matter. We have a responsibility to consider the small as well as the big, merely because that is what the whole world around us, a world of conscious, living beings, must exist upon. We are not gods, and our knowledge does not grant us the authority to play the same. That’s not… not the point of us.”

“But in the name of progress we have eaten our souls up, and nothing else matters to us anymore.”

“The secret to being unafraid of the darkness is to challenge the darkness to fear you, to raise your eyes sharp to those few souls who stagger by, daring them to believe that you are not, in fact, more frightening than they are.”

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!

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

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.

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating : 5/5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating : 5/5 stars

Book #50 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Miss Marple’s Final Cases by Agatha Christie

The last Agatha Christie book I have at home is Book #50 for my 2015 Reading Challenge.  

This may not be the best Agatha Christie book but it’s still worth a read. Bite-size mysteries you can enjoy anytime, any day. The Dressmaker’s Doll is spooky and is my favorite in this collection.

I’m going to miss the witty and clever Miss Marple since I don’t have and I can’t find the other books that feature her. However, that won’t stop me from reading Agatha Christie’s other works.

Rating : 3.5/5 stars

Book #49 – 2015 Reading Challenge – A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

This book intrigued me when I first saw it in the bookstore while checking out the non-fiction shelf. I can’t remember reading anything about boy soldiers before and I’m glad I picked this up. Book #49 for my 2015 Reading Challenge…

When I was 12 years old, I was enjoying a fruitful life with my parents and brothers. I go to school, I play sports, hang out with friends, travel, etc. Life was great. But when Ishmael Beah was at that same age, he was running for his life in Sierra Leone, became a boy soldier left with only two choices: kill or be killed.

This is a quick, great and honestly-written book worth reading. My only disappointment was the ending. He mentioned in the book that he ended up living in the US with his adoptive mother but I wanted to know more how he got there from Guinea and what happened after. Other than that, I highly recommend this book to everyone, though it’s a heart-breaking story, it is an important topic/subject everyone should be aware of. It’s a great read that will make you step back, stop complaining and be thankful for what you have.

Favorite quotes : “Some nights the sky wept stars that quickly floated and disappeared into the darkness before our wishes could meet them.”

“Some people tried to hurt us to protect themselves, their family and communities…This was one of the consequences of civil war. People stopped trusting each other, and every stranger became an enemy.”

“At night it felt as if we were walking with the moon. It followed us under thick clouds and waited for us at the other end of dark forest paths. It would disappear with sunrise but return again, hovering on our path. Some nights the sky wept stars that quickly floated and disappeared into the darkness before our wishes could meet them. Under these stars I used to hear stories, but now it seemed as if it was the sky that was telling us a story as its stars fell, violently colliding with each other. The moon hid behind clouds to avoid seeing what was happening.”

“My childhood had gone by without my knowing, and it seemed as if my heart had frozen.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating : 4/5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating : 4/5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating : 5/5 heartbreakingly beautiful stars

Book #43 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Book #43 for my 2015 Reading Challenge is this wonderful piece of historical fiction.

A beautiful story about trust, faith, friendship, relationships, change, survival, love, second chances, etc.

I never heard of orphan trains until I saw it on Goodreads. Apparently, about 200,000 homeless children from crowded cities in the US were put on these trains to find new families in the West. These children are then paraded in every train stops where people who are willing to adopt can check and question them. Those selected children will go with their new foster parents right then and there as soon as the paper works are done. Those who weren’t lucky enough to be chosen will re-board the train and try their “luck” in the next stop. Vivian, an Irish immigrant, was one of those children.

In this fictional tale, Vivian at 91, forms an unlikely friendship with Molly who is several decades younger than her. Their stories are interwoven together and thus came this beautiful book.

The writing was simple and the dual storyline was well-applied. It certainly kept my interest from start to finish. (And I love the book cover!)

Favorite quotes : “I am not glad she is dead, but I am not sorry she is gone.”

“You got to learn to take what people are willing to give.”

“I like the assumption that everyone is trying his best, and we should all just be kind to each other.”

“I learned long ago that loss is not only probable but inevitable. I know what it means to lose everything, to let go of one life and find another. And now I feel, with a strange, deep certainty, that it must be my lot in life to be taught that lesson over and over again.”

“So is it just human nature to believe that things happen for a reason – to find some shred of meaning even in the worst experiences?”

Rating : 5/5 stars

Book #42 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

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Gwenda Reed was looking for a new house and chose to buy the one that seems familiar to her. From there, she starts to see/imagine things that should be in the house — stairs, wallpapers, doors, etc. Moreover, she prefers to sleep in the nursery.

The mystery slowly unfolds once she found out that she actually lived in the same house as a child eighteen years ago.

This could have been a great book if it weren’t so predictable to me. I think reading too much of Miss Marple these past few months made it easier for me to figure out the murderer. However, I’d still recommend it!

Favorite quote : “Jealousy, you know, is usually not an affair of causes. It is much more – how shall I say? – fundamental than that. Based on the knowledge that one’s love is not returned. And so one goes on waiting, watching, expecting …  that the loved one will turn to someone else. Which, again, invariably happens.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Book #41 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I read Gone Girl earlier this year and enjoyed it so I was really looking forward to reading Gillian Flynn’s other books. I finally bought a copy of her first novel and that makes it Book #41 for my 2015 Reading Challenge.

Fucked-up girls! Disturbing.

So this is the story of Camille Preaker, a journalist sent back to her hometown by her editor to cover a story about the unsolved murder of two pre-teen girls.  As she tries to get more information about the murders, she identifies herself more and more with the victims.

Gillian Flynn is very good in creating likeable but damaged characters, which I liked most in this book as well as in Gone Girl. The main characters are incredibly flawed but smart.

I also personally think that Flynn was able to touch very well on themes about alcoholism and inflicted abuse in this book, some things that happen almost everywhere in the world today.

Overall, this novel is not as great as Gone Girl but it is worth reading.

Favorite quotes: “Sometimes when you let people do things to you, you’re really doing it to them.”

“How confusing to live in the shadow of a shadow.”

“I ached once, hard, like a period typed at the end of a sentence.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Book #40 – 2015 Reading Challenge – The Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie

Book #40 for my 2015 Reading Challenge is another Agatha Christie. a carribean mystery

So this book is set, as the title suggests, in the Caribbean. Yes, Miss Marple is on a Caribbean vacation.

The story is about a murderer who always gets away with his crime because people don’t want to listen. The pace was a bit slow compared to her other books but that didn’t stop me from reading. The relationship between Miss Marple and Mr. Rafiel, an unwell millionaire, is what I like most in this book. I think that the story belongs much to both of them. 🙂

Somehow, I guess I’m starting to understand the A. Christie formula already. 🙂 Or this just probably happened to be the easiest of her mysteries? Either way, I guessed it right on this one!

Favorite quote : “Life is more worth living, more full of interest when you are likely to lose it. It shouldn’t be, perhaps, but it is. When you’re young and strong and healthy, and life stretches ahead of you, living isn’t really important at all. It’s young people who commit suicide easily, out of despair from love, sometimes from sheer anxiety and worry. But old people know how valuable life is and how interesting.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Book #39 – 2015 Reading Challenge – Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

After reading Laura Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, I made sure to get my hands on Seabiscuit: An American Legend. Luckily, the guesthouse where I stayed at in Phnom Penh has a second-hand bookshop just in front of it. I wasn’t really expecting to find it there but TA-DA!!!

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A fantastic piece of non-fiction.

This is the story of the almost unrecognized talented race horse, Seabiscuit (who happens to be a descendant of one of the greatest race horse, Man o’ War) and the people who came to work together to make history. It’s such a fantastic mix of an underdog story and wonderful writing. Hillenbrand writes what she needs to say in the simplest, smartest and most precise way and that is that.

I really enjoyed this book and would love to recommend it to everyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Favorite quotes : “His books were the closest thing he had to furniture and he lived in them the way other men live in easy chairs.”

“…maybe it was better to break a man’s leg than to break his heart.”

“It’s easy to talk to a horse if you understand his language. Horses stay the same from the day they are born until the day they die. They are only changed by the way people treat them.”

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

Book #37 – 2015 Reading Challenge – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Sometimes, you find a book with an amazing story and it’ll stay with you always. Book #37 for my 2015 Reading Challenge is one of these…

Book #37 - 2015 Reading Challenge
Book #37 – 2015 Reading Challenge

In All the Light We Cannot See, we meet a French blind girl, Marie-Laure and the young German soldier, Werner. Set in France in World War II. Two people. Lives changed. Then eventually crossed paths filled with beauty and heartbreak.

Amazing story. A book not to be missed!

Favorite quotes: “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

“I saved her only to hear her die.”

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?

“Is it right… to do something only because everyone else is doing it?”

Rating: 5/5 stars

Book #36 – 2015 Reading Challenge – 4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie

Book #36 is another Jane Marple mystery by Agatha Christie:

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The story started when Ms. McGillicuddy, on her way to visit Miss Marple, witnessed a murder when her train ran alongside another. Nobody believed Ms. McGillicuddy since there were no other witnesses and no corpse was found. Only Miss Marple believed her friend’s story so her quest to find out the murderer started.

I enjoyed every page of this book and I loved the tandem of Miss Marple and Lucy Eyelesbarrow (one of Miss Christie’s best female character). I managed to narrow it down to two suspects about halfway through the book but one of them died a few pages later so I’m left with just one who turned out to be the murderer! Haha! I am a little bit bothered though that I didn’t find out who Lucy ended up with! 🙂

Agatha Christie isn’t called the Queen of Mystery for nothing — I’m officially hooked!

Rating: 5/5 stars

52 in 2015 – Reading Challenge

My friend and I challenged ourselves to read 52 books this year and since I just started this blog a couple of weeks ago, I was only able to start to post from Book #34. So here’s the list from Book #1 to #33…

  1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – Who decides who’s sane & who’s not? cuckoo's nest
  2. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – A quiet novel that contains so little action and yet carries great, gentle power.
  3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – A psychologically twisted portrait of relationships gone wrong.
  4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote – Highly readable writing style.
  5. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – For fans of historical fiction or simply of a good story. invention of wings
  6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon – I’m not sure how true in real life this portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome is but I think that it is very well written.
  7. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie – A mystery that will keep you in suspense while keeping a smile on your face. body in library
  8. 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup – “What difference is there in the color of the soul?”
  9. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera – A kind of book that requires a little more attention than usual but worth reading.
  10. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – I know a lot of people were raving for this book but I’m definitely not the target audience for this one.
  11. HHhH by Laurent Binet – A book so good even though I already knew the outcome. HHhH
  12. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami – It’s not quite as good as his other books but I love it. Still Murakami. Weird and wonderful.
  13. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson – It’s not quite what I was expecting and it was so easy to figure out the outcome.
  14. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – Truly a page turner! Finished it so quickly. Highly recommended! aj fikry
  15. The Pact by Jodi Picoult – My third Jodi Picoult book. A tragic event turned personal family tragedy. I like the book though it left me with a lot to think about.
  16. By the River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept by Paulo Coelho – “Love perseveres. It’s men who change.”
  17. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – While I personally think that suicide is stupid, I would recommend this book. I like the way the book’s written, alternating Hannah & Clay’s points of view within the same chapter. Truly a page turner because you want to find out who’s next on the tapes. I was so relieved to find out that Clay isn’t included for bad reasons. I can’t say I agree with all of Hannah baker’s reasons why she did it but I still enjoyed the book and would recommend it.13 reasons why
  18. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand – One of the best stories I have ever read! What can I do but recommend this book? True to the book’s title, Louis Zamperini’s life’s one of survival, resilience & redemption. It’s just very unfortunate that evil Watanabe (the Bird) was never tried as a war criminal. I’m left with an unsatisfying ending but very real. unbroken
  19. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie – The “dangerous” Miss Marple was first featured in this book. Suspenseful. Surprises and false leads.
  20. Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck – Crushing! john steinbeck
  21. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – Enjoyed this book because it felt real though the ending was a bit rushed.
  22. Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult – I like Jodi Picoult’s works, but this didn’t make it high on my list.
  23. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Wonderful! Magical! the night circus
  24. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson – I was literally laughing out loud while reading this. Fast-paced & entertaining. the who saved
  25. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak – A simple, heart-warming book that makes you think and want to do better for yourself and other people.
  26. True Believer by Nicholas Sparks – A simple, captivating, romantic read. As always, Mr. Sparks has his way of giving life to his characters, making it so real. A great read about taking chances and following your heart.
  27. The Railway Man by Eric Lomax – “…remembering is not enough, if it simply hardens hate.”
  28. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks – This completely broke my heart so I’m not going to read any book of Mr. Sparks any time soon.
  29. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami – The title itself tells what the ending’s gonna be. Really loving Murakami more! a wild sheep chase
  30. The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie – A nice exercise if you like to guess “Who did it?”
  31. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – The start was a bit jumbled up to the middle part that I found it hard to continue reading this book but the last few chapters got a lot better. It’s a brilliant story, it’s just the way it was presented that I didn’t like.
  32. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie – Love the love story and the nasty mystery.
  33. A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie – Being able to guess who the killer is in this book just makes me feel good and clever. Haha! a murder is announced

There goes my list. Let me check yours! 🙂

Book #35 – 2015 Reading Challenge – A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

Book #35 for my 2015 reading challenge is:

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In this mystery is a very unpleasant family — not very likeable characters, specially Mr. Fortescue. The nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence, is used in the plot of this book.

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye;
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing,
Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?

The king was in the counting-house, counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour, eating bread and honey;
The maid was in the garden, hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose.

Although this is a Miss Marple mystery, most of the job is done by the police, which is a little disappointing because I really like this grandma! Anyhow, just when I thought I can already predict the murderer, things just got  twisted again! Very smart really, Miss Christie! But I really liked how it all came together in the end.

Favorite quote : “Old sins have long shadows.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Book #34 – 2015 Reading Challenge – The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

I usually spend my free time reading books and I challenged myself to read 52 books this year.

Since I just started this blog a few days ago, I’ll start sharing the latest book I’ve read. I’m not going to write book reviews though. I’m not one to write book reviews… 🙂

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Book #34 is The Girl You Left Behind. This is the first book I’ve read written by Jojo Moyes. Touching & heart-breaking but heart-warming in the end. Looking forward to more of her works.