The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren | ARC Review

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Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

Date of Publication: May 14, 2019

Date Read: May 11, 2019

No. of Pages:432 pages

Setting: Maui, Hawaii

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Get Your Copy Here: Amazon | Book Depository

 

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Reading this book felt like a wonderful vacation!

First of all let’s just give a moment of silence to appreciate the beauty of this cover! Nothing screams like the perfect summer read than The Unhoneymooners!

The Unhoneymooners is one of the best romcom books I’ve read! It deserves all the hype it is getting. The duo Christina Lauren never disappoints! It has everything I want in a book – haters to lovers trope, palpable sexual tension, laugh out loud conversations and so much more. I could go on forever. This book is the perfect escape, it makes you want to pack all your bags and book a trip to Maui, Hawaii.

We have Olive Torres who went to the honeymoon in her sister’s stead with no less than her archnemesis – Ethan Thomas, who happened to be the best man at her twin sister’s wedding. It sure is a great premise and what is even greater was it was executed well. This book is such a pure delight to read, not only it has moments that would make you snort the loudest in public but also it has depth too. I love that the characters are very distinct. The authors had the power to write characters that feels like someone you actually know, making the reading experience more worthwhile. And that is what I love about their books, the main characters like Olive (or Hazel from Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating) are so distinct, not the generic type one encounters all the time in romance books. You can very well tell them apart, and they give out certain impacts making you remember each story fondly. I really commend the character development, it was something out of the ordinary. Can I just also say how much I love the family dynamics here! Kind of reminded me of my family too!

The Unhoneymooners is quite addictive, just impossible to put it down. And did I mention I love the humor in this one? It was so beautifully crafted, reading it felt like a true vacation. What I also love about this book is that conflict towards the end, how you thought everything is as smooth-sailing as one it implies it to be, then bam! Loved that it wasn’t just some shallow conflict just for shock value, it was what the book needed to give more texture to it and to make it everything but cliche. By the end my cheeks hurt from smiling a little too much. Gahhhh I just love Olive and Ethan okay?? If you are looking for a fun and light read make it your life’s mission to read this one and all other books by these amazing authors!

 

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang |Book Review

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Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Date Published: May 07, 2019

Date Read: May 08, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Setting: San Francisco, California

No. of Pages: 320

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Get Your Copy Here: Book of The Month | Amazon |

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Now I am conflicted which book I love more – The Kiss Quotient or The Bride Test. Both books are sexy, sweet with a dash of some family dynamic. A perfect mix if you ask me. I breezed through this one, ad now one thing is for certain, Helen Hoang has done it again. She is now a favorite! This isn’t much of shocker, I was completely smitten by The Kiss Quotient so loving The Bride Test isn’t a challenge at all, I mean what’s not to love.

Asian Representation

Much like The Kiss QuotientThe Bride Test gives us a glimpse of Vietnamese culture and way of life. We get to see its stark difference from the western culture. How family ties are important and necessary part of their lives. As an Asian myself, I appreciate this a whole lot. Asians are becoming represented more and more into books and movies. Our cultures are highlighted and presented through own voices. Hahah and you have to give it to Khai’s mom to find him a bride. Haha! Ah Asian moms!

I loved Esme’s character. She was as real as it could get. Emotional and vulnerable but resilient. She knows how to hold herself up. I love that she was willing to better herself and not for shallow reasons. I love how this book centers on family and the sacrifices one is willing to make for them.

Khai on the other hand is a character who is easy to love. You get to understand why he is the way he is. I specifically loved the back story, I thought it was well thought-out and very fitting to the story making everything coherent and solid.

Autism Spectrum

Another own voices book. Now I can tell books that discusses autism spectrum has now become something I look forward to. I wanted to understand it better and learn so much from it. It is amazing how the author was able to write such amazing characters whilst also pouring herself into them. What I loved about this book, is its ability to present the autism spectrum in such a way that is easily understandable, giving the readers somewhat a taste of what it is like. Presented in a romance context The Bride Test truly isn’t something we encounter in romance books on a daily basis. You can really tell Helen Hoang really knows her craft and her power to convey it into words.

Sweet, Cute and oh so Sexy!

This book is brimming with cuteness and sweetness. If you’re looking for a feel good, fast and mushy read, then you’ve come to the right place. This is a perfect romcom! Make it a movie, I demand it! I love how the chemistry between Esme and Khai wasn’t forced or rushed. While I already expected it to be a little steamy, taking from its predecessor The Kiss Quotient, I was still surprised to be honest. I seem to forgot how Helen Hoang writes such romantic scenes, with enough sensuality and innocence at the same time.

I am glad this book did not suffer the proverbial second book syndrome. I am glad that it is as good as the first if not better. I really loved how it ended, it was just sweet and ahhhhh my gooey heart! Now I cannot wait for Quan’s story and all his tattooed glory! Hahah! And can I just say, I really love Michael and Stella’s cameos! I was sooo living for it! Made me miss them so much that probably a reread of The Kiss Quotient will happen in the near future. This book easily became one of my fave reads this year! Thank you Helen Hoang for yet another masterpiece!

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“You don’t have the flu, this is how your heart breaks. It’s like you hurt too much for your brain to process, and then your body shuts down too.”

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides | Book Review

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Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

Date Published: February 5, 2019

Date Read: April 22, 2019

Publisher: Celadon Books

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Setting: London

Get This Copy Here: Amazon | Book Depository

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Great plot twist!

You know what I like about thrillers? It’s their capability to lure you in and take a hold of you like nothing else in the world matters but what’s going on inside the book – that is The Silent Patient for you. It has this ability to grab your attention until you’re in too deep. The Silent Patient is yet another book that lived up to its hype. It took me 2 months from its release to finally read it, and I am glad I did. I was in the mood for some thriller and The Silent Patient definitely did not disappoint.

What is tricky with thrillers is how they will reveal their respective plot twists. Some we see coming from a mile away,  some would just hit you right in the face without warning. The Silent Patient’s plot twist can best be described as a snake watching you and biding its sweet perfect timing to strike. This is what I loved most about The Silent Patient, how you thought it as was so obvious yet it was able to surprise you in the end. It was sinister and clever just what thrillers should be. It was presented in such unconventional way. The book was well put-together from the beginning to the very end. I love that there were no plot holes, everything was coherent and everything made perfect sense. A solid book! The Silent Patient will keep you guessing, and just when you thought you had it all figured out, the twist will come and laugh at your face.

The characters were varied, never boring always kept you guessing. I love how all of them were somehow related to each other. Alicia Berenson frustrated me at times but also surprised me, I didn’t have that inkling about her character from the beginning so to say I was surprised about it all would be an understatement. You see what’s good about thrillers is you really don’t know who to trust. Everyone has a motive, everyone can be a suspect. The Silent Patient toyed with my mind and I gladly gave in. Other characters gave the book more depth, everyone was an integral part on how the ending will come about. It was well-thought out. The only thing that has been keeping me from giving it full five stars is its pacing. It was a little slow for a thriller. Maybe I was looking for something that would constantly keep me at the edge of my seat. But this one had more of melancholic and a little calm vibe to it, maybe because the narration happened after the fact.

I also loved how Greek mythology came into play. It was well tied up into the story giving more texture and flavor to it. It is indeed a fantastic debut novel. I am sure to watch out for more books from this talented author.

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“About love. About how we often mistake love for fireworks—for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm—and constant.”
― Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

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❝About love. About how we often mistake love for fireworks—for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm—and constant.❞ – Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient . ••• Finished reading this one and oh boy that twist is really something huh? Loved it! That’s what I love about thrillers, its capability to lure you in, to take a hold of you like nothing else matters. The Silent Patient isn’t something I have expected. And though it has a slow pace, I love how everything else is connected. There were no loose ends. And I really appreciate that! Now I am into thriller kick! Any recommendations? 4/5⭐️ ••• #TheSilentPatient #AlexMichaelides #Botm #bookofthemonth #botmbookbassador

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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata | Book Review

 

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Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis–but will it be for the better?

Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko’s thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind. Convenience Store Woman is a fresh, charming portrait of an unforgettable heroine that recalls Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and Amelie.

Date Published: June 27, 2018

Publisher: Portobello Books

Date Read: March 2019

No. of Pages: 167

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Japanese Literature

Setting: Japan

Get your  copy here: Amazon | Book Depository

 

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Japanese counterpart of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Convenience Store Woman albeit a short read definitely packed a punch. It wasn’t what I had expected. It had the usual Japanese literature vibe – the calmness, subtlety, the minimalist sense (if that makes any sense at all) yet with so much depth and impact. The kind where you wouldn’t know what hit you until it’s a little too late. I love that this book goes beyond what it seems. It’s not just having mental sickness, but it is always deeper than what it actually is, and I really appreciated that in this book.

Keiko Furukura reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant, that’s why I was quick to say that Convenience Store Woman is the Japanese counterpart of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. You would really notice how they are both unaware of how they deal with people and sometimes how funny their actions and thoughts get. But the similarities end there, Convenience Store Woman delves more on the perception of people in the society and how they affect one’s personality and one’s way of socializing and communicating.

Convenience Store Woman is equal parts funny and equal parts sad. You would feel empathy for our main character, the way she tries her best to fit in with the standard set by the society, of how she tried to conform, otherwise she should be “cured”. Convenience Store Woman tackles how society sees an adult single woman who works the bare minimum – useless. The early times when women are treated differently isn’t too far off from today’s society. It may have been under modern circumstance and whatnot, but the prejudice is still very apparent. This book highlighted how the world doles out too much double standard and conformism, act otherwise and you will be branded as someone that needed fixing. It is an exhausting taught, making one ponder on how this society still has a long way to go to be free of this inequality in gender and gender roles. I love that this book tackled this facet and didn’t shy away from providing a pill of reality dressed in humorous but often melancholic work of fiction. Thought-provoking and relevant, Convenience Store Woman sure knows how to keep its reader interested up to the very last page. Finished this book in one sitting!

I loved the ending! I was scared that our character would just succumb and conform through and through, but boy that ending was a sweet redemption. It may not be what I was hoping for but it sure packed a punch! Sayaka Murata is an author that I would continue to watch out for. Did you know she actually worked in a convenience store? Talk about real and raw voice there! Japanese literature will always have a special place in my heart, its calmness, it feels like homecoming. Can’t wait to read more stories like this!

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“When something was strange, everyone thought they had the right to come stomping in all over your life to figure out why. I found that arrogant and infuriating, not to mention a pain in the neck. Sometimes I even wanted to hit them with a shovel to shut them up, like I did that time in elementary school. But I recalled how upset my sister had been when I’d casually mentioned this to her before and kept my mouth shut.”
― Sayaka Murata, Convenience Store Woman

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National Poetry Month 2019

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April is National Poetry Month and what best way to celebrate it than to read and feed my soul with gut-punching, heart-wrenching, tear-inducing, soul-crushing poetry books. May it be contemporary or not, I am here to read any poetry book I can get my hands on! I know last year I promised to post some recommendations and reviews of poetry books as well, but never really came around to actually doing it, I blame the jitters I have while waiting for the Bar Exam results, for that I am truly sorry. So yes, despite my busy schedule, I will devote some of my time posting for National Poetry Month, and you bet I’m going to stick with it this time! I was consistent the previous years doing something for National Poetry Month, be it be posting my fave poems a day, or writing one, I always make sure I do something related to poetry. You can call it an annual tradition. A huge chunk of me loving books is because of poetry. Poetry books are the first books I ever collected, it is still my life goal to have a huge shelf filled with every kind of poetry book. I am mad serious about it, and though the past year this passion may have dimmed a little, I am back to rekindle that fire. I even dreamed of writing a poetry book someday, but that topic would be for another time. For now I’ll savor other people’s poems, and maybe I could find the courage to write mine someday.

I will be posting mini reviews, along with my favorite poem from each book I will finish. You can also check my bookstagram @nerdytalksbookblog for regular updates on the book I am reading and my initial thoughts about each of them. As of this writing I already have read and made mini reviews on 6 poetry books, all of it contemporary ones. So excited to continue with this little project for the whole month of April. Let me know if you want to join me and maybe we can share our favorite poetry books to each other! Or better yet, recommend me your favorite poetry book and I’ll see if I could squeeze it in this April!

Would love to hear if you have little projects like mine for this month!

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Fierce Fairytales: Poems & Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill | Book Review

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Poet, writer, and Instagram sensation Nikita Gill returns with a collection of fairytales poetically retold for a new generation of women. 

Traditional fairytales are rife with cliches and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.

But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.

Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself, Fierce Fairytales is an empowering collection of poems and stories for a new generation.

Date Published: September 11, 2018

Date Read: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Hatchette Books

Genre: Poetry

Number of Pages: 159

Get your copy here: Amazon | Book Depository

 

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Great premise, mediocre execution. 

I’ve read her previous poetry book Your Soul is a River and quite enjoyed the same. I remember tabbing few poems that resonated with me more than the others. It has a theme of self-love, self-healing, love, loss and heartbreak, which I appreciated. Now comes her newest poetry book Fierce Fairytales: Poems & Stories to Stir Your Soul which delves on a different take on our most loved fairy tales. Incorporated herein, are the same themes she’s been actively advocating — feminism and self-love. And while I enjoyed some of the poems and stories in this collection, I found them to be repetitive to a fault. There are stories that could have been executed better. Some of the poems were too literal leaving less imagination to its readers. This collection of poetry is great for beginners, for those who just ventured out into the genre, but to those people who have been exposed to poetry, this book can be another mediocre one. While I appreciate the message this book was trying to convey, I just felt like it could be so much more. It had a great potential and premise but just wasn’t maximize to its full potential. Would you believe that it took me almost three months to finish this? Because to be completely honest, it didn’t hold much of my attention. I felt like I have read so many similar poems contained here, that it has become too overrated already. It doesn’t serve anything new, but only made a different spin on stories we knew by heart. While there is nothing wrong with that, but it could be a tricky one. An author should be able to incorporate newness in a familiar thing for it to work, but that isn’t the case here.

I was expecting something different, something more profound, something that would pack a punch – but didn’t get any of that here. I was trying to love it because of the feminist theme, but I just couldn’t  bring myself to do just that. This book was trying to put some twist on our most-loved fairy tales and at first that excited me, but half way through the book all the magic was lost on me. It was meh. I just finished the book just so I could move on to better books. I guess this book just wasn’t for me.

Still thank you Hachette books for sending me a copy!

 

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“I hope you summon your courage and you invite your demons to tea, and you learn to listen to all their stories.”
― Nikita Gill, Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul

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My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh | Book Review

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Entertainment Weekly’s #1 Book of 2018 

New York Times Notable Book and Times Critics’ Top Books of 2018

The New York Times bestseller.

From one of our boldest, most celebrated new literary voices, a novel about a young woman’s efforts to duck the ills of the world by embarking on an extended hibernation with the help of one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature and the battery of medicines she prescribes.

Our narrator should be happy, shouldn’t she? She’s young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a powerful answer to that question. Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers.

Named a Best Book of the Year by:
The Washington Post, Time, NPR, Amazon, Vice, BustleThe New York TimesThe GuardianKirkus ReviewsEntertainment Weekly, The AV Club, & Audible

Date Published: July 10, 2018

Date Read: January 2019

Publisher: Penguin Press

No. of Pages: 368 pages

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Psycological Fiction

Setting: New York

Get Your Copy: Amazon | Book Depository

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Ottessa Moshfegh is a good writer, but her fiction maybe isn’t my cup of tea.

My first read for 2019 has proven to be somewhat a letdown. Otessa Moshfegh is an author I’ve been hearing for quite sometime, and I thought it is high time to finally get acquainted with her works. I gave My Year of Rest and Relaxation a try since it has been named by Time and The Washington Post  as Book Of The Year, a pretty huge thing to throw out there. And so the ever curious self in me picked it up, gave the most regal title of first read of the year. I was hoping it would start my 2019 reading year on a good note, but I have never been so wrong. I regret picking it up to be completely honest. or maybe it was just a bad timing. I don’t know. This book is definitely not for me. It feels like this book was just this huge montage of doctor visits, bodega visits, blacking out, ordering Chinese food and letting it stale, drinking too much pills, oh those poor kidney, participating in things our protagonist couldn’t remember anything about and this went on and on like a sick cycle. I was waiting for things to pick up but it was just a monotonous song lacking rhythm and rhyme. It was titled My Year of Rest and Relaxation but I was more restless and annoyed the more I read it. Half of the time I had no idea what was going on. I laughed a few times, yes, but that didn’t serve as a redeeming quality of the book. I feel like I don’t get the humor, I am supposed to laugh but I couldn’t find it in me to fully do it. It is as if everybody got the joke except me.

I love flawed characters, I enjoy reading about them. But our protagonist in this book is flawed yes, but I was more annoyed than interested. She was just flat, plain boring and even repulsive to a fault. Am I supposed to like her? I know I am not supposed to but at least I wast hoping there would be something I could relate to, or heck at least make it a worthwhile read. It was a struggle reading her narration, I just wanted it to end.

And that ending, wtf was that? Starting this book I thought it was centered on the 9/11 event, but boy was I wrong. It was January when she started taking Infermiterol, I thought after her stint with it with PingXi it will fast forward to the 9/11, but I just ended up frustrated because the 9/11 event seemed like an afterthought, I know it was somewhat a metaphor but it was so lost on me. I am not the right audience for this. I am one of the poor souls that won’t get Ottessa Moshfegh’s fiction.

Sad that this is how my 2019 reading year started, but I won’t stop reading until I find my next favorite read!

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Sleep felt productive. Something was getting sorted out. I knew in my heart—this was, perhaps, the only thing my heart knew back then—that when I’d slept enough, I’d be okay. I’d be renewed, reborn. I would be a whole new person, every one of my cells regenerated enough times that the old cells were just distant, foggy memories. My past life would be but a dream, and I could start over without regrets, bolstered by the bliss and serenity that I would have accumulated in my year of rest and relaxation.”

― Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation

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