(The Last Remnants of) 2018 Reads: Not My Favorites

Hi, Nerdies!

I must be the last person in the blog-world who is still talking about her 2018 reads. But well, I am a slow reader and even a slower blogger, so please bear with me. And, Thank You.

These were books I didn’t enjoy for several reasons, a chunk of them were because something about the stories just didn’t click with me, some because the writing-styles weren’t to my liking, and some because I was obviously not a part of the age-group targeted! Yet I stubbornly read it.

I categorized them based on those reasons I just mentioned! And this recap is not ranking-ordered.

Storyline

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Too Much Hype.

As you’ve probably guessed, this is a trilogy telling about how crazily rich asians live their lives.

First glance, the backstory is so very interesting. As an Asian myself, I know exactly how these rich-richie-super-duper-rich Asians live a strikingly contrasting lives compared to people who belong to a different social status or race. Supposedly, these people are extremely,extremely,EX.TREME.LY extravagant and pretentious.

So I thought these books should be fun and entertaining. (They even made a movie based on this trilogy!)

But, no. I read the first book, and decided to put them down. I rarely, rarely dnfed any book or series, so at least I finished the first book I was already reading.

Honestly I found the narrative unnecessarily prolonged. It was lack of progress and dull. I felt like the story would be much more engaging if it were to be cramped into just one book instead of being extended to fit into three books. Throughout the first book, setting and character-wise, the plot kept switching back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, And. Back. And. Forth., it exhausted me. So I was done.    

The Summer I Turned Pretty; We’ll All Have Summer by Jenny Han

Heavy Romance.

This is weird. It’s a trilogy, yet I only read two out of three.

This was how. I read the first book, and as I said, I rarely dnfed any series, so I continued to the next book. And because I was so smart, I jumped into the third book haphazardly instead of picking up the second one orderly. Intentional or not, I skipped it hence I missed it.

Anyway.

I loved loved loved another trilogy by Jenny Han: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. So I figured I would probably love this one too. Especially because this was Han’s older trilogy.

Well, it didn’t suit my taste. I loved the other trilogy because it was sweet, light and refreshing. This one however was too sad, too dramatic, too tragic for my liking.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Too unfair.

This book is about a black marriage in America which has to face racial injustice, be victimized because of it, and to either thrive or crack under its pressure.

Well, I am fully aware that in many stories with persecution theme, it’s hard if not impossible for the victim to get vindicated in any way. But, it’s just way too too painful to read how hard and how futile our main couple’s struggle to collect and mend any pieces left of their shattered marriage, and because of what? Some-external-unjust-reason that shouldn’t even have happened in the first place?

I felt like I should be peacefully shipping them, not devastatingly un-shipping them! Like the way I did Roy and Celestial’s relationship.

But now that I’ve come to think about it again, maybe that was what the writer wanted to evoke from the readers all along! Maybe this book shouldn’t be here at all. #sorry 

Writing-style

Underground Railroad

Terrific Story, A Bit Slow Though.

This is a story of a courageous slave who wages her best attempt to escape from a ruthless cotton plantation. Great story!

Unfortunately.

Something I couldn’t put my fingers on held me back from savouring this book. My best guess was the writing-style. The writer has this sort of slow to unravel, a bit on the arcane side, and hard to read story-telling style. But at least I admired the heroine! 

Thanks a Thousand by A.J. Jacobs

Intriguing Idea, Monotonous Execution.

This one is a record of Jacobs’s journal on him invoking gratitude feeling by thanking people who contribute in making his cups of coffee. The list runs from a barista to a steel producer.

The message is well delivered. We should be grateful, and gratitude is not an innate thing. In contrast, it can be intentionally cultured and invoked. Yada yada.

As important as the message was, I found this book highly redundant. I kept losing my focus while listening to the writer telling the story of when he was personally thanking various people. I thought there were not enough discerning events in every chapter to separate one version of thanking this person from another account of thanking that person.

Lastly

Age

I am an old lady now.

These were honestly good books, but I was already too old when I read them. The scare didn’t frighten me, the ruses didn’t fascinate me. But I could imagine that I would have enjoyed it ten years back.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

The story takes set in a fantasy world, where rats have ways to communicate, do business, and even emphatize with fellow rats. A girl interestingly named Lady Door would lead you through her search adventure to find out the murderer of her family members and to finally take her revenge.

It by Stephen King

Yes, that IT movie you know is based on this book.

It’s about a haunted city where children keep missing. Some of these children’s bodies are later found dead and horridly incomplete while the rest of the bodies mysteriously disappear. Ironically, adults don’t even bother to question what’s been happening and instead, they let it pass like it is just another daily stuff. Not the living kids though, they have their own suspicion, and eventually some of them are brave enough to prove their hunch.  

I’ve covered this in another post, you can check that out if you want: IT -Book Review.

That’s it for now. As always, don’t forget to press like, follow, or kindly leave a comment below, and I’ll see you guys next week!

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(2019) January Hits and Misses

Hi, Nerdies!

Hope everything is going well with you! Today I am summing up my January reads. There are some hits, one that I have mixed feelings about, and the rest are unfortunately misses!

Hits :

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Remarkable.

Not only this book is a good book, it’s also a must-have-must-read book. It’s a theory which predicts what kind of future that we’ve been making for ourselves as a species, written by a history genius. If you’re interested in knowing more about this book, you can go here:  Homo Deus: Are We God?

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Intriguing.

This one is another and highly political book. It’s laden with partial political views and opinion. This book covers 100-first days of Trump’s presidency, it includes narratives on his governing-style, his political and racial disposition, his family and most importantly his fury. Putting aside its provocative propensity, I must say that this book is very well-written.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Fine by Gail Honeyman

Great Story. Great Characters.

If you’re in a mood of a good, somber and grim story with a bit of bitter and saucy humor on top of it, then this novel will definitely satisfy your thirst!

I’ve put out a full-on post on this book, and you can check that out here: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely NOT Fine!

Kindfulness by Ajahn Brahm

Perfect Guide.

It’s an abridged version of a meditation handbook. It’s surprisingly very easy to digest and very very well-structured. This book would be a perfect guide for any complete newbie who knows absolutely nothing of meditation and is not sure where to start.

(For the full version, check out: Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm)

However, a tiny caveat, if you’re only interested in meditation practices, and not in being a Buddhist, the full version is probably not for you.

Mixed-Feelings:

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

A Quasi-Poem.

As clear as in the title, this small book recounts a writer’s life, through a somewhat poetic narrative. Not that this book is a bad book, because it’s obviously not! But the thing with anything poetic is I am too dumb to understand it most of the time. And that’s where the mixed feelings came from I guess.

Misses:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Moms would relate the best to this book!

I read this book because of all the rage on the Instagram. People seemed to like it so much, so probably I would too. I didn’t.

I guess the fact that I am not yet a mom myself has made this book a full-of-questions pool for me. I questioned every turning point of the story, I had mixed feelings about almost each character, and I didn’t fully understand which part of the narrative should have intrigued or hooked me.

But since many people enjoyed it, maybe you will too!

One Day In December by Josie Silver

Not for me.

To me, this novel would otherwise be an engaging story if not for its terribly drawn-out love at the first sight. Personally and primarily, I am not a fan of awfully cheesy romance and most importantly, I don’t believe in love at the first sight. Besides, I also couldn’t accept the irony of what was painted as such a deep and sure love took the longest time to materialize.

Do Humankind’s Best Days Lie Ahead

Too short of a book, too important of a subject.

This one is a brief record of a debate on humankind’s future. I read this book in the event of trying to balance out Harari’s opinion (see Homo Deus: Are We God? to understand what I am talking about), and I ended up not liking it simply because it was too short to be substantial on such a complex matter. But it was short, so it didn’t take up much time to read anyway.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to press like, follow or kindly leave a comment below, and I’ll see you guys next week!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely NOT Fine!

Hi, Nerdies!

Here’s another novel to read: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a realistic fiction by Gail Honeyman.

Storyline

It’s a story about a girl who thinks she is completely fine when she is completely not!

Her name is Eleanor Oliphant and she is an atypical girl with a complicated scar on her face.   

Everything about her is either unusual or downright strange. She doesn’t have a mobile phone or know what facebook is. And despite her young age, she can’t stand anything part of pop-culture, especially those in-style typed abbreviations! She does speak and write over-formally as she doesn’t even know how to make or have a standard conversation with another human being. And on top of all that, she is also this oddball who thinks of stalking people as merely visiting them, and of liking a stranger as the same as having that very stranger as a boyfriend.

It’s either because of her peculiarity that she has nobody in her life, or the fact that she has nobody in her life makes her bizarre.

Anyhow, she has no friend, no family, basically nobody to talk to. Not that she has anything to talk about. Because never once she thinks that she needs somebody else, or that there’s anything wrong with her life or herself really.

Only through a random IT guy who later becomes an acquaintance who goes by the name of Raymond, Eleanor eventually finds out that she’s been missing out a lot in life. All along, she’s been missing things as basic as having a friend and things as elusive as a scar that she’s been refusing to deal with.   

So.

I enjoyed this book so much!

Especially the characters.

To begin with, I adored all and every El’s peculiarities. I found them so striking that they’re intriguing, and sometimes they’re even amusing! I loved seeing her behaving insanely oddly while thinking that the others were the ones who’re incomprehensible. It was so twisted and exhilarating.

Other than that, I also found Ray and his absurd connection with our pitiful main weirdo so fascinating.

Nothing is normal about their relationship that it’s impossible to even put a name to it. It’s something like a friendship, yet it’s hard to call something friendship when one person in it doesn’t even know what a friendship looks like, let alone know how to act like a friend. But anyway the two end up spending time together thanks to a series of unplanned life events and Ray’s casualness combined. And in span of their times together they do usual stuff friends do; like going to another friend’s house, coming to a bar and having lunch, but somehow those episodes go quite differently in El’s mind.

I swear the never-ending twist-slash-contradiction between the world in and outside El’s thoughts is seriously addictive!

Writing-style

Gail’s writing-style is dramatic, solemnly atmospheric, and meticulous. This novel is not titanic-tragic, nor armageddon-dramatic, but it has just enough drama and secrets to engage readers in and out. If it were a dish, I’d say this book was very well-seasoned!

The story runs not exactly slowly but it’s not a fast-pacing narrative either. It’s more like being magnetized slow. The solemn vibes will give you the sense of right time and ambiance to devour the story properly.

Narrator

If you’re on Scribd, I’ll say you better listen to this book’s audio version. It has the best narrator I’ve listened to! The kind of narrator that totally turned me back into a preschooler by listening to her narration!

That’s it about Eleanor and Ray and see you guys next week!

Michelle Obama as a Friend: Becoming

I am an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey. And sharing my story I hope to help create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and why

Michelle Obama

Hi, Nerdies!

 

It’s time for the famous Becoming, an autobiography of Michelle Obama.

 

The fact that Becoming became a best-selling book in only two weeks after launching illustrates how much people adore Michelle Obama better than anything else can.  

I knew that a memoir was a place where people got personal, but I didn’t know that you could get this personal like how Michelle did in her book.

To me, Michelle always came across as a self-possessed and confident person. Like whatever comes, she’ll know what to do kind of person. I thought she was the kind of woman who’s always on top of things, who would segway from duty to duty smoothly, and kept the perfect balance of work and family at all times.  

I’d never thought she too could have her own insecurities or uncertainties. She looked so tough and strong, it’s like I wasn’t even sure if Michelle Obama had ever cried before.

But she turned out to be as normal as any other woman could be. And she wasn’t afraid to show it. That’s what makes Becoming totally worthwhile.

 

Becoming Me.

As a child, had you or had you not ever been asked this question:
What do you want to be when you grow up?

Michelle told Oprah on Super Soul Conversation, that this frequently asked question bothered her. In her opinion, the question suggests that a child is ought to know what his dream is, like it is a finite thing. Michelle herself though, rather considers that in life, one is supposedly confronted with an endless phases of becoming someone or something.

Hence the title, Becoming.

In the book, Michelle sort of divides her hitherto life journey into three big chapters, Becoming Me, Becoming Us, and Becoming More.

In the first chapter, Becoming Me, the message that I suppose Michelle is trying to get across is how her childhood life was not much different to ours. That she comes from a family that is similar to ours.

I was particularly taken aback when I read about the time when Michelle stopped being a lawyer after she realized that that kind of life wasn’t for her. First of all, I didn’t know that she stopped being a lawyer at all. And second of all I had no idea that she took herself as a person who wasn’t cut out for lawyer-life. And I thought achieving that level of career she must have had relished it. How little did I know about her before this book really?  

I was also astonished knowing that she was once living a life driven by the ambition of checking boxes and powered by a thing as cliché as money. I really wasn’t expecting that from her at all.

Anyway, after that.

Having overcome a load of hesitation, she eventually resigned from being a lawyer when she was almost 30 years old. That decision alone, at that kind of age, deserves an applause. And she only got more courageous from that moment on. She subsequently started working for a semi non-profit organization which should have been sort of her dream job. But then, not having the income she needed became another problem. How did she react then? Just go read the book. #winkwink

The hope is I guess, through this part of her life she would inspire us not to balk on a change, no matter how drastic it is. Instead, having regrets is what we should be afraid of.

 

Becoming Us.

Michelle has been answering the same question with the same answer over and over again, yet the very question is still hovering around us. When will Michelle run for president?

In the second section, Becoming Us, Michelle seems hoping to finally put this inquiry to rest once and for all.

And her answer still remains unchanged. It’s Never.

Us expecting Michelle to be the next president means also that we undermine completely the complexity and the tangible risks of politics. Most of us don’t understand politics well, yet we are anticipating Michelle to be involved in something that she understands very well yet can’t stand it.

Michelle’s ordinary life stopped when she replaced the Robinson in her name with Obama. Michelle couldn’t possibly explain it better than she did in her memoir, how marrying the Barack Obama had made a normal life simply no longer attainable.

Barack Obama was born different. He was born to lead a big change.

And the only reason Michelle agreeing Barack to run was because she couldn’t bear to be the one to stop him, to hinder him. She couldn’t help but feel small juxtaposed with the intensity of people’s hopes and the prospect of what the man was capable of doing.

Politics was her compromise, her sacrifice.

To be someone’s wife is essentially a sacrifice of identity. To let everyone including countless non-deserving ones judge your life at all times is a sacrifice of normality. And to let your kids be exposed to the harm of politics is too big of a sacrifice that not everyone can make.

Thereby, she was somehow waiting it to be over someday. And it finally did.

 

Becoming More.

Up to this point, we have been served with Michelle’s sides of story that we weren’t aware before. But now that we are at the brink of the end, it turns out, we also have some things that we’ve already known all along.

Like the fact that she is a best friend material.

Becoming is one of her ways to reach out to people. Sharing her story, it seems that she is hoping we could get the idea that life is pretty much the same to her as it to us. That she also fights the same battle as ours. That in a way, we are never alone in our fights.   

While I was listening to her narration of the book, I couldn’t help but picture Michelle and us girls in a den where we were keenly listening to her telling her life story.

And as if she was really our friend, she was empowering us through her narrative.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and see you next week!

A Sweet Love Letter: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Hi, lovers! I love you all like lovers. Really, I love you, and you, and you, and you I don’t know but I could definitely see loving you. But most of all, I love Love.  


Jack Mc.Farland, Will and Grace

Dear Nerdies,

There is this new Korean American author who writes sweet sweet love stories, her name is Jenny Han.

Sometime in December last year, I casually started to read one of her book, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. It is a story of two highschoolers who aren’t supposed to be a cute couple naturally, yet they are.

Little did I know that I was getting myself into a chain reading.

Once I finished reading the book, I figured out that it was a part of a trilogy. Of course a lover like me would never leave a love story hanging. Hence for the next two days, this too-old lover did absolutely nothing but finishing all three books of the trilogy, voraciously swallowing P. S. I Love You and Always and Forever, Lara Jean.

You know how sometimes when you read a love story, your heart flutters so much as if you’re the one in the story? This story will do exactly that to you. Repeatedly. Addictive-ly. (if that’s even a word)

I read the story. I smiled. I cringed. I laughed. I cried. A lot. I hated. I loved. I climaxed.

Love books are totally porn for us girls. And girls, these books are a good porn. They will satisfy your lust of love. 

And then I repeated from reading to climaxing over. And over again. And again. Until I lost counts.

Yes, these books are that sweet and addictive.

I think you really should read these books. Also please keep in mind that the right order is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before first, P. S. I Love You second, and Always and Forever, Lara Jean is last. Make sure you don’t mess up the order, or else you will know what you shouldn’t too early and surely that will ruin the mystery for you.

And you’re supposed to read all three books, (again, it’s a trilogy!) because I am afraid the ending of the first book will leave you high and dry. You hate that feeling, don’t you? Well, I know I do. So just think of the three books as one big book, cause that’s exactly how it is.  

Last but not least, to say that the real ending of the story is beautiful is an understatement.

P.S.

I intentionally write this post letter-like, because I still can’t forget Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky, and their teenage love.

A Comment On You:Obsessive and Chilling

Hi, Nerdies!

This one is a novel. About a stalker. By Caroline Kepnes.

Nothing gory, only crazy and disturbing. If you are into psychotic stuff like me, then this novel is definitely for you.

I read this novel being enticed by its numerous good reviews which were literally strewn everywhere I looked. I found one or two bad reviews, but mostly those were because the reviewers couldn’t stand the level of creepiness.

I think this book is ingenious. The story is narrated by its villain, Joe, which makes it such a riveting account. I feel like it’s kinda fun and exciting and creepy of course to know what’s actually going on in his mind and to sort of peek into why he does what he does.  I am sure there are stalkers like Joe out there that actually have immediate access to our daily life. And to just think that any of us can easily be a Beck (the girl in the story) is insane. 

In short, I thought I knew what a stalker is, but really, I didn’t. You want to know what a stalker is, you must read this book.

And by the way. If you want a maximum level of creepiness, I suggest you to watch Nightcrawler right after you finish the book. It is a movie starring and produced by Jake Gyllenhaal. Don’t ask why. Watch it and you’ll know why.

Thank you for reading, and if you like my writing even a bit, please share, or follow, or comment, or like. But even if you do nothing, I still thank you!

Here is a synopsis from Scribd:

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the bookstore where Joe works he is instantly smitten.

But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes and much more to Beck than her perfect façade. And the obsessive relationship quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences.

A chilling account o fun relenting, terrifying deceit, Caroline Kepnes’ You is a thriller more perversely clever and dangerously twisted than any YOU have ever read.

IT – Book Review

IT

A thriller novel by Stephen King, rated 4.5/5 in Amazon.

Synopsis

On one stormy day in Derry, a boy in a yellow slicker and red galoshes goes out of his house to sail his newly made paper boat in the rain. Not long after, he lost his beloved boat to the pouring rain. While searching for his boat, an eerie voice inside a storm drain calls his name. He peeks into the storm drain and he sees a clown with silver eyes holding his boat. It invites him to come to the sewer to get his boat. The next thing happens is the kid discovered lifeless by the storm drain with one of his arm ripped off.

Georgie is not the only victim. Kids are mysteriously disappearing in Derry. There are children who witness a ghostly clown claiming those kids’ lives, but no adult believes in ghosts.

But Bill, Georgie’s big brother, believes in It. He knows that It kills his brother and other kids in Derry. It senses kids’ fears, and devours scared children. Only fearless Bill and his loser friends are willing to challenge It. They believe in It, they chase It and they fight It.

Comments:

SPOILER ALERT!

Huge fan of the story.

First, I think the idea of Pennywise (the clown) taking different shapes depending on kids’ fears and phobias is genius. It shows that the war they’re fighting is in fact an imagination war. This makes perfect sense because we are talking about kids here. Kids are innocent and imagining is what they master at. All confrontations happen in reality as Pennywise actually kills the kids yet all of them happen in thoughts keeping the adults out of the picture. (Because of course adults are not capable of imagination) Children’s naive boldness makes the battle they’re exclusively fighting without adults intensely dangerous.

Suspense-wise, I think killing kids is never NOT scary. Kids and blood are just two perfect elements of great suspense. OMG, I can’t believe I said that. And as if slaughtering children is not scary enough, the bullies in the story do some real gory stuff like they are not only 11 year olds. Henry actually carves a letter using a knife on Ben’s belly. And he initially plans to carve not just A letter but letterS! I even needed to pause at the moment Henry poisons Mike’s dog.

About the ending, I can’t say I am stunned by the idea of a transcendent gigantic spider villain, perchance because I am not a fan of spiders. But, considering how unreasonable my partial judgment is, the ending is otherwise impeccable. At the beginning of the story Pennywise appears as a clown, but going towards the end of the story, it is gradually revealed that Pennywise is in fact not a human being. Pennywise’s real form turning out to be a divine entity is the perfect culmination of the supernatural events that have been happening like when Bev’s crazy dad not seeing all the blood splattered in their bathroom or when the kids’ scars coming back after Mike’s call.

Fan of the characters.

Stuttering Bill is truly one exceptional character. For starter, he stutters and you supposedly can’t be a cool kid that way yet he is the coolest one to his gang. And also King portrays him as a precociously mature kid. You can see he is indeed a grown up when he decides not to show his fear because he’s afraid it will shake his already scared friends. (Referring to when they get lost on their way home from It’s nest) He is the same age with the others yet he is distinctly and specially different. He leads his friends and he decides on matters, he is essentially the losers’ foundation.

Other than Bill’s rare personality, the team’s chemistry is also worth pointing out. The admirable trust among them is specifically shown in every situation they get themselves in. I especially adore how they constantly amuse and consistently love one another. My most memorable love moment is when Bev and Ben hiding from the three idiotic bullies in the clubhouse. There, I can feel Bev loves Ben deeply, acknowledging yet ignoring Ben’s love for her. I find the love between them is quite indescribable yet fascinating. Though, I do feel strange that King picks sex as a way to picture the supposedly unbreakable bond among them. I hope I read it wrong, but in case I got the right idea, near the end of the book Bev has sex with literally everyone in the team. And isn’t that quite extreme for 11-year-olds? But again, I am probably a prude.

There is this one small hitch though. Several characters felt a little bit unnecessary to me. I am specifically talking about Audra and Tom, and probably Patrick Hockstetter. Audra and Tom appear like in one chapter, do almost nothing and straight away get killed. And Patrick’s lunacy can perhaps be bestowed to one of the other three idiots. I just can’t imagine the story being different without them.

Not a fan of the length.

The book contains 1600ish pages on Scribd, the longest novel I’ve ever read to this day. Not that it’s a bad thing, but the thing is I don’t feel like it’s needed.

Maybe you’d tell me that I should not be the one talking considering this lengthy review. But well, this is my turn to judge, so I am going to judge AWAAYY ..

King spent some first chapters to narrate a couple of murder cases, such as Adrian Mellon’s case and Black Club case. I was a bit disappointed that many pages are written about people who are not going to show for the second time for the rest of the story. And all of those pages only to make a point that a massacre happens every 27 years in Derry. Now don’t get me wrong, I completely get it that you need some pages to build a strong base to the story, but I am just saying maybe fewer pages will make do.

Generally I love this book. King is a remarkable thriller writer. Both the story and the characters are meticulously detailed written and King patiently builds the suspense ensuring readers engagement. If the novel didn’t scare me enough, I would totally blame my age. Other than that, I will definitely read King’s other pieces and I obviously will recommend IT to others.