Nerdy Talks Top 10 Books of 2019

year long reading challenge

Another great year has ended with it the best books that graced the earth. 2019 wasn’t really the best reading year for me, I have been juggling my profession and personal stuff like crazy and let just say reading and blogging took the back seat this year. Despite this I was still able to read noteworthy books, I may not have made it quantity wise but the quality of the books I enjoyed the past year, I can definitely live with.

1. Not That Bad by Roxanne Gay

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It is almost the weekend! Almost 😅. I just came from a four-day vacation. What did I miss? ☺️ Vacation is always too short right? Anyway, what genre is your go-to vacation read? Well here’s the thing, I don’t read on vacations, just on the plane ride, I prefer short stories and essays whenever I need something to read on the plane. ••• I’ve been reading Not That Bad (Dispatches from Rape culture) edited by Roxane Gay and my goodness this is such a powerful read! I have tabbed so many pages already and I am only like 60 pages in! It’s already so good, it should be required reading! So lucky to chance upon this from #NBSsummersale for only P161.00. So fellow Filipinos, please get this!! There’s still one left in NBS Mega Mall. . ••• #NotThatBad #RoxaneGay #rapeculture

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Not That Bad by Roxane Gay is a deep and raw collection of essays. It tackles rape culture told in varying perspective. This is such a powerful read, it should be a required reading. Have everyone in your life read this, especially the men in your life. It was a heavy read but so important! I have learned so much in reading this – and before this I thought I knew enough, turns out I am wrong. I know so little. Reading this book was a very bitter pill to swallow but something that should be fully addressed, and should be talked about more openly.

2. Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I have always been a fan of Laini Taylor’s writing. There was not single book she has written (that I’ve read) that I didn’t like. She has this whimsical way of story-telling. One of the best fantasy writers that I’ve ever read. Strange The Dreamer is magical in all sense of the word. It is not the usual fantasy we come across each day. It has so much more to offer. What I like best about Laini Taylor’s works is the quality of the writing style. Lyrical and well-executed – giving you the full experience. The kind of story that will stay with you, the kind of story you’ll definitely go back to.

3. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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❝But, by careful observation from the sidelines, I’d worked out that social success is often built on pretending just a little. Popular people sometimes have to laugh at things they don’t find very funny, do things they don’t particularly want to, with people whose company they don’t particularly enjoy. Not me. I had decided, years ago, that if the choice was between that or flying solo, then I’d fly solo. It was safer that way.❞ – Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine ••• Who else relates to Eleanor Oliphant? Aren’t we all pretending sometimes? 😪 Tell me a book that made you reflect on who you are. ••• #eleanoroliphantiscompletelyfine #gailhoneyman

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine  is the kind of book you never thought you ever needed. Eleanor was such a great narrator, funny without even trying, heck without even knowing it. This book is hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. It was so much more than the high praises it was constantly getting. Eleanor Oliphant is not the likable kind. I have always found it funny whenever people rates a book low because the main character was not likable. I always expect the characters to be as real as any human being one comes across with, and to be honest, not everyone is likable, I myself is not everyone’s favorite and that’s okay. Why should it be any different with characters in a book? This is the kind of book that makes sense as it goes, from loathing Eleanor to loving her and understanding her better. I can say this is my ultimate fave book of 2019.

4. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Ackkkk another book that made me so giddy. I have loved The Kiss Quotient and I was ecstatic about The Bride Test and it definitely did not disappoint at all. Helen Hoang has now a special place in my heart. Another auto-buy author. This book gives the right amount of sexy and sweet, with dash of some family dynamic. I loved loved loved the Asian representation. Asians are represented more and more into books and movies and I appreciate this a whole lot! Another plus point for The Bride Test is it is an own voices book. The Autism Spectrum was explained in a way that many people could understand it better and in simpler terms. You can really tell that the author knows her craft and is not afraid to use it.

I am glad this book did not suffer the proverbial second book syndrome. It is beautiful and engaging in its own right. Can’t wait for book three!

 

5. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Lock Every Door is the very first book I have read by Riley Sager. His name has been rounding the internet for quite some time already but I never got the chance to read his works until Lock Every Door and boy was I missing out. I breezed through this book. It grips you like a vise. This book is a solid page turner. The kind that keeps you at the edge of your seat. It will give you the creeps and the chills at first, but as you plunge deeper you’ll learn that it isn’t just a simple scare, something more profound lies underneath. Ahhh I wish I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil it to anyone. Here’s one thing I just learned, this will be made into a TV series, can’t wait how it will turn out! That would be exciting!

6. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Reading this book felt like a wonderful vacation! You have to give it to the duo to come up with fresh and unique rom coms every time. Unhoneymooners is not an exception – it is funny, sexy and cute! The best summer read if you ask me.The Unhoneymooners is quite addictive, just impossible to put 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 the conflict towards the end, how you thought everything is as smooth-sailing as one 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 and to make it everything but a cliche. By the end my cheeks hurt from smiling a 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!

7. On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

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❝Sometimes being offered tenderness feels like the very proof that you’ve been ruined.❞ – Ocean Vuong; On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous ••• Finished this book last night and I am giving 5/5⭐️. It’s not just briefly gorgeous, it is eternal. A masterpiece. I am still in awe by how beautifully written it was. It’s the kind of book that you will think about quite a lot and will stay with you for years. I have tabbed so many passages, I think this is my most tabbed book. Wow! It was in letter style addressed to the mother of the narrator. I love the diversity, LGBT theme, and the different generations depicted in the book. It was so rich, heartbreaking and evocative. I am so in love with Ocean Vuong's writing style – it was powerful yet melancholic, lyrical yet precise. Best book of 2019! Thank you so much @penguinpress for my arc! I found a new favorite author!!! . ••• #OnEarthWereBrieflyGorgeous #OceanVuong #penguinpress #nerdytalksreview

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On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous has got to be one of the most lyrical book I have ever read. This book floored me. It was so beautifully written. The kind of book that would stay with you for days, even years! It was short but it was dense. I have tabbed so many passages, I think this is my most tabbed book. This is not just briefly gorgeous, this book is eternal. A masterpiece! I am so in love with Ocean Vuong’s writing style – it was powerful yet melancholic, lyrical yet precise.

8. All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

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❝ When I reached her, she was a star, pulling me into her orbit. ❞ — Bryn Greenwood, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things ••• That feeling when you want to rush home and finish a book because that’s how attached you have become. I am already 159 pages in and I am loving this book. Interesting characters, the kind that can really drew you in. I’ve been meaning to read All The Ugly and Wonderful Things for the loooongest time and I am finally doing it! Wavy and Kellen is just the most unlikely characters, I can’t wait to know what will happen to their story. Don’t spoil me okay? ••• What’s that one book you’ve been meaning to read? #AllTheUglyandWonderfulThings #BrynGreenwood #BookoftheMonth #botm #tijneyewear

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All The Ugly and Wonderful Things is a highly controversial book. I know that this book ain’t for everyone. It is the kind of book that will challenge you as a reader. It will make you uncomfortable but at the same time root for the characters. You’ll be conflicted all the way but will end up appreciating the story. It was controversial as it was a masterpiece. It was an unconventional love story spanning years. The most unlikely couple yet a big part of me roots for them so bad. It’s like I wanted to be in the book and explain to people what’s between Wavy and Kellen.

Wavy, Kellen, Donal and all other characters are so distinct and impactful, the kind you’ll be thinking about long after you’ve read it. Bryn Greenwood is such an exquisite story teller. I’m silently cursing myself for not reading this one sooner. This book definitely made it to my top books of 2019!

9. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

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❝He had to trust a stranger to do the right thing. It was impossible, like loving the one who wanted to destroy you, but that was the message of the movement: to trust the ultimate decency that lived in every human heart. ❞ ― Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys ••• 5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Finishing this book sent me into an emotional turmoil. As if there’s this inexplicable weight on me that I just couldn’t simply shake off. I was more than sad reading this book, it was harrowing and unimaginable. Such an impactful read. It is the kind of book that you wouldn’t forget. It would creep up in your head without preamble, and you’ll feel hollowed out and just extremely heart broken. The same feeling I felt when I read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It was unsettling, I can’t stop thinking about it. It was a short book but wow, it gave out more than you could hope for. And that ending, I was too stunned, I had to process everything. Such a well written book that tackles racism, discrimination and so much more. A required read if I say so my self. Now give me a happy book or else I will sulk all this weekend. 😔 P.S it gave off The Orange is the New Black vibe, I don’t know if it is proper to compare it to that, but the situation of The Nickel Boys and the prisoners in OITNB isn’t far from each other. Let’s just say OITNB is the lighter version and The Nickel Boys is the evil, gruesome, monstrous brother. ••• PH friends you could get your copy at @_fullybooked. You can call to make a reservation or just go there and grab the book. Prepare your emotions though, this book is a heavy read but something so profound and impactful! #TheNickelBoys #nerdytalksreview #fullybooked #ColsonWhitehead #literaryfiction

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The Nickel Boys sent me into an emotional turmoil. As if there’s this inexplicable weight on me that I just couldn’t simply shake off. I was more than sad reading this book, it was harrowing and unimaginable. Such an impactful read. Unforgetful. It would creep up in your head without preamble, and you’ll feel hollowed out and just extremely heart broken. The same feeling I felt when I read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It was unsettling, I can’t stop thinking about it. It was a short book but wow, it gave out more than you could hope for. And that ending, I was too stunned, I had to process everything. Such a well written book that tackles racism, discrimination and so much more. A required read if I say so my self.

10. Ice Planet Barbarians series by Ruby Dixon

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Hey there 👋🏻 This is me coming up for air. Haha. I have been binge reading Ice Planet Barbarian Series by Ruby Dixon. @psy_kaoru have been raving about this a few months back, but I didn’t really have it in me to read it then. Then I saw @peacelovebooksxo youtube vid about Addicting Romance Series and I guess that was the extra push I needed to indulge myself with scifi romance. And oh boy oh boy they are so addicting, they are like potato chips, you just can’t have one! This series follows stories of different women who were abducted by little green aliens and were offloaded to the next habitable planet because of some engine failure. Left to fend for themselves, they discovered they are not the only living creatures there. Enters these sexy horned aliens who show deep affection and so much more to these women. 😜 SMUTFEST I tell you. If you’re curious like I was, then by all means treat yourself some steamy scifi romance. It is definitely the series you never thought you’d need. Look past that cover, and you’ll know it is seriously a good read! 💙 ••• #IcePlanetBarbarians #BarbarianMine #RubyDixon #ScifiRomance #scifi #romance

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Not a book but a series. It was 2019 when I finally been swayed to read the Ice Planet Barbarian series. And my goodness, it is a series that keeps on giving. It just keeps getting better and better each book. I love how as the book progresses the plot thickens, the setting expands, the characters evolve. Everything else gets better and more engaging. When you look past those covers and focus on the story of each book you’ll understand how it isn’t just smut, it is so much more. It had depth and a real story that is truly entertaining. If you’re just a tad bit curious, I say go ahead and read the first book, it wouldn’t hurt to do that. You can thank me later!

 

Honorable Mention:

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

A powerful book! It was liberating and thought-provoking. Presented in a simple letter form that gave so much impact and hits home more than it intends to. There are differences in customs and cultures presented here, at least a little different from Asian type of upbringing, but what was written here is universal. The fifteen suggestions transcend cultures, customs, idealogies and race. It encompasses everything and that’s how feminist books should be written. It is not selective in its pursuit for equality nor it gives misconceptions, if for anything it debunks certain “feminist concepts” — feminist lites, which to be honest I may or may not have been one. This book lets you unlearn what you’ve been fed to believe and what you thought was right and acceptable all along. It was a blessing reading this one. I have learned so much. It is insightful and relevant, I couldn’t help but pass it on to someone else and let them be enlightened and be educated more. I’m gonna talk about this book as passionately as it deserves!

 

So there you have it, my top books of 2019. I hope 2020 will bring more quality books. Happy New Year everyone may you all find your favorite book this year!

 

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Falling Through Love by Akif Kichloo | Book Review

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Falling Through Love is a heart-pounding, stomach-dropping, beautiful plunge into experiences of love, longing, and loss.

Falling Through Love submerges readers into Kichloo’s deeply personal yet widely resonant experiences, exploring relationships in their most exposed and honest states. Written in a variety of poetic forms—free verse, rhyme, prose, and visual poetry—Falling Through Love takes the reader on a poignant journey with the writer, about charting one’s own path in life, investigating failure, family dynamics, and love. Looking at life backward and forward simultaneously, this collection brings forth new perspectives on what it means to be alive, to have made mistakes, to have fought for an identity, to have loved and lost and then loved and lost again.

Date Published: November 5, 2019

Date Read: November 7, 2019

Genre: Poetry

Number of Pages: 144 pages

Get your copy here: Amazon | Book Depository| Barnes and Noble

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Fearless, honest, evocative and personal.

Akif Kichloo has proven himself to be a new rising poet to definitely watch out for. I have the pleasure of reading his other work Poems That Lose which I thoroughly enjoyed as well, but Falling Through Love has got to be my favorite book by him. I have witnessed how much his poetry evolved from his very first book up to the latest one. He was more precise, yet never losing his signature charm.

There are few poems here that honestly made me tear up, especially the poem The Absence of Everything. I don’t know why, but it gave me goosebumps. The poem is about a stillborn child and how it somewhat affected the relationship of the parents. It spoke to me as if I have undergone the same ordeal, when in fact I didn’t. And that was what is commendable with this collection of poetry, it has the power to make you feel emotions beyond your own understanding.

Falling Through Love is such a powerful collection revolving around family, parent and child relationship, loss, longing, brokenness, love and the depths of it and so much more. It was coherent yet gave different textures, different flavours. It tackled topics with full of heart, you can notice how personal each of the poems were, yet one couldn’t help but resonate to it as if each poem is also about its reader no matter how different their situation might be. It was personal yet inclusive. It touches you like every good poetry should. It wasn’t a detached piece of writing, it was inviting, with shared joy and even shared grief. A collection like this is hard to come by these days.

Akif Kichloo is now added to my favorite poets list. His work is truly something to watch out for. Lyrical yet concise. Honest and evocative. Fearless and passionate. A book worthy of your precious time.

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there is this tender place
between nothing & everything

now that’s where I see myself;

someone’s something
in the everything of their world.

— Falling Through Love, Akif Kichloo

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

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Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Date Published: June 5, 2012

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Date Read: October 2019

No. of Pages: 358 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Get Your Copy Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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Verdict: Meh

Shadow and Bone, oh my oh my, where do I even begin? First off, this book is really hard to get into. I keep on spacing out, I keep putting it down. 100 pages down and it hadn’t gripped my attention. I just didn’t have it in me to be excited about it. I just wanted to get it over and done with so I can proceed to other books. You know that feeling when you couldn’t wait to rush home, lock yourself in your room and read the night away? Well, I didn’t feel it towards this book. Unconsciously maybe I have high expectations since I have been hearing a lot of buzz surrounding this series and since the cast for the show has been revealed. A part of me felt like I needed to be in the loop with what’s happening in the bookish world. I am easily swayed alright?

Shadow and Bone was a bit anticlimactic. There are so many missed opportunities to make it more solid and impactful. It really had the potential to be more epic, but the narration and world building just isn’t a cut above the rest. I feel like if you’ve been a heavy fantasy reader you would find this book mediocre, I am not a heavy fantasy reader by a long stretch, so that means a lot. Shadow and Bone might be a good start for readers who are branching out to the fantasy genre.

Let’s talk about the characters. I found Alina’s character to be too weak, indecisive, push-over and what have you. It felt like whatever she did outstanding was just an afterthought. It lacked character development, something I crave for in fantasy books. The Darkling on the other hand, is something I want to read more of. I wanted to know more about his backstory and his real name (if that was somehow mentioned and my mind spaced out, forgive me). You gotta admit there is this enigma surrounding his character. The characters in this book didn’t catch my attention. None of them I have rooted for, or none of them appealed so much to me, which proves to be a problem when one reads a fantasy book, You have to be invested at least in the characters for your to have that driving factor to move forward no matter how plain the plot was. So there’s that.

Plot wise, Shadow and Bone was lacklustre. There was so much potential yet it was not fully explored. It fell short in all sense of the word. Like there could have been so much more, so much more. The author could have played with it, say, made it more complex, or gave it more texture. I don’t really know what’s needed for it to be amazing, all I know is I really wanted more from it. I finished the book feeling unsatisfied. I was told it gets better, but I won’t jump immediately on to the next book. I will take a break delving into Siege and Storm. I need to cleanse my palate first. So sorry but the hype was overrated. I would let my disappointment die down, or who knows I might just go ahead and read Six of Crows instead!

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Finished this one two weeks ago and forgot to post my mini review here. So here goes my 2 cents. 2.5⭐️⭐️✨ Verdict: Meh. I’m sorry but this book is really hard to get into. I didn’t have it in me to be excited about it. I just wanted to get it over and done with so I can proceed to other books. Maybe I would just go ahead and read Six of Crows since I have been hearing that it is far greater than this one. We will see about that. Shadow and Bone was a bit anticlimactic. There are so many missed opportunities to make it more solid and impactful. It really had the potential to be more epic, but the narration and world building just isn’t a cut above the rest. I found Alina’s character to be too weak, indecisive, push-over and what have you. It felt like whatever she did outstanding was just an afterthought. It lacked character development, something I crave for in fantasy books. I will take a break delving into Siege and Storm. I need to cleanse my palate first. So sorry but the hype was overrated. ••• Did you like this series? Does it get better? I need the extra push to read Siege and Storm! #ShadowandBone #LeighBardugo

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The Octopus Curse by Salma Farook | Book Review

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Science would have us believe that we are nothing but cell upon cell. I disagree. We are made up of stories. The stories we hear from our mothers, the ones we tell our daughters. The tales we share with sisters and friends. The ones we never say out loud, but are heavy on our minds and run like a fever in our blood.

There are a multitude of great divides between us; race, religion, cultures, the way we dress, the languages we speak, but the stories we tell bridge us together in the universal tongue of smiles, tears, pain and laughter. They remind us that, as women, we’re all chasing similar fairy-tales.

This book is a call to celebrate the bridges, delight in our stories and to focus on the joy in our lives right now, rather than racing behind the happily-ever-after. That will come in it’s own time.

Date Published: November 1, 2019

Date Read: November 1, 2019

Publisher: SeaShell Publications

No. of Pages: 208

Genre: Contemporary Poetry

Get Your Copy Here: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

Ebook copy can be downloaded for free on Amazon until November 5th!

 

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It has been a while since I last read a poetry book, so much so that I crave the feeling it gives me. That feeling of calm, some sense of inner peace that I don’t get from other genres. Poetry is the language within which people are united to share a universal emotion and experience, whatever situation they find themselves in. The Octopus Curse gave the same feeling, same impact.

The Octopus Curse is such a gorgeous book. Aesthetically pleasing. You’ll notice how much effort, art and hard work were put into it. That cover alone will catch your attention. But it isn’t just a book with a pretty face, its contents are amazing as well. I specifically love the correlation of the Octopus to human’s emotions. I like that it has varied topics, most especially the ones about travelling and woman empowerment. The Octopus Curse  is a celebration and acknowledgment, as much as it is bitter reality and unmasked truths. I loved how the author were able to bring out certain topics with ease, not beating around the bush but directly saying what needs to be said, and that is an important attribute of a good poetry book.

The Octopus Curse is a mixture of poems about love, heartbreak, self discovery, woman empowerment, rape culture, immigrants, mothers and so on. While these are some great topics, I would have liked it more if the poems are divided equally into these topics. Giving great emphasis to each. Maybe putting these topics into sections in the book might have warranted a five star rating for me. The Octopus Curse isn’t divided in parts, it was a continuous one with varied topics inserted here and there, but mostly it tackles love and heartbreak. While there is nothing completely wrong with that, I just wish there was more to it. More poems on immigrants and race, more on mothers. I wish it was more well put-together. I wanted to feel and experience the full extent of it and not just fragments. I will be waiting for her next collection as I am sure this poet has all the potential to surpass her current greatness, and I’ll be there to see it!

 

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MIGRANT

“I am the bridge between continents,
The merger of languages,
The fusion of cultures.
I am the reminder that the lines
We once drew between ourselves
Were not meant to be fractures,
But only to show how our borders
Fall together like puzzle pieces”

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THE OCTOPUS CURSE by @salma.farook . SYNOPSIS: Science would have us believe that we are nothing but cell upon cell. I disagree. We are made up of stories. The stories we hear from our mothers, the ones we tell our daughters. The tales we share with sisters and friends. The ones we never say out loud, but are heavy on our minds and run like a fever in our blood. There are a multitude of great divides between us; race, religion, cultures, the way we dress, the languages we speak, but the stories we tell bridge us together in the universal tongue of smiles, tears, pain and laughter. They remind us that, as women, we’re all chasing similar fairy-tales. This book is a call to celebrate the bridges, delight in our stories and to focus on the joy in our lives right now, rather than racing behind the happily-ever-after. That will come in it’s own time. ••• First off, this book is gorgeous! I love how so much art and hard work was put into it! Today it is set to be released in the wild, don’t forget to get a copy! While you sit there, you can download the ebook on Amazon for free until November 5 (link in my bio). Watch out for my review! Happy Book Birthday, Octopus Curse! #poetry #OctopusCurse #SalmaFarook

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The Whisper Man by Alex North | Book Review

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In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

Date Published: August 20, 2019

Publisher: Celadon Books

Date Read: October 6, 2019

No. of Pages: 355

Setting: Featherbank, Horsforth United Kingdom

Genre: Mystery Thriller

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Dark, sinister and unsettling.

I went ahead reading The Whisper Man without knowing anything about it other than it is about a serial killer dubbed as The Whisper Man, in fact that is an enough reason for me to start it. And so I did, and oh boy, I wasn’t prepared for it. It gave me the creeps, and by creeps I mean all my nerves have gone haywire, my heart was beating so fast, hell I held my breath in more than one occasion. If you’re a big fan of true crime documentaries, this one might be for you. It had all the formula of a good thriller book — constantly keeps you at the edge of your seat, your nerves are tingling from the anticipation, you have occasional goosebumps and your mind is just blown how coherent everything was.

Upon finishing The Whisper Man, I was in awe by how much dedication was put into it. Everything was interconnected and made perfect sense. I don’t know if this is a good trait about me or not but I always tend to look for loose ends in a book — you know those things that hardly make sense, those things that are unnecessary and the book could definitely do away with. With The Whisper Man I hardly found loose ends, if there was any. The events made sense and interweaving with each other. A polished book – and you best believe those are hard to come by these days.

The Whisper Man is this very elaborate and intricate story filled with creepiness and heart-thumping scenes. One you could not possibly put down. It will suck you in and before you know it you’re reading until 3am eager to know who this Whisper Man is. The eerie vibe to it only added to the goodness of the book. It will capture your attention and hold it longer than you expected. This book deserves to be made into a movie, yes it is that good. An impressive debut! Alex North is an author you should definitely watch out for. This book has this inexplicable pull that you couldn’t easily get out of. They said it is a different experience listening to audiobook, I would love to try that in the future! 

The varied narration also added texture to this book. I always look forward to Jake’s part of narration, that’s where most of the creepy and eerie stuff comes in. You can’t help but be attached to the characters specially Jake’s. Jake’s misunderstood behaviour, his imaginary friend, his silence were very essential and played an enormous part in making this book much more creepy and much more inviting. I also love that it is about father and son relationships, may it be in the normal or the most twisted sense. Gahhh this book is just superbly made. I am not a wide thriller reader, but this one is just exceptional. I don’t know what else to tell you to convince you. I don’t want to go into details about this book, but just take my word for it and read it! You won’t be disappointed I promise!

 

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“If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.
If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home.
If your window’s left unlatched, you’ll hear him tapping at the glass.
If you’re lonely, sad, and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you.”
― Alex North, The Whisper Man

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THE WHISPER MAN by ALEX NORTH is an August @bookofthemonth selection! ••• Synopsis: . In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town. After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank. But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed "The Whisper Man," for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night. Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter's crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man. And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window… ••• 🦋 Read with the lights on, that’s what they said. Oooh I can feel this is such a great book!! Would squeeze this one this month!!! Which books did you get from @bookofthemonth? 🦋 #bookofthemonth #botm #botmbookbassador #TheWhisperMan #AlexNorth

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The Secret History by Donna Tartt | Book Review

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Storytelling in the grand manner, The Secret History is a debut remarkable for its hypnotic erudition and acute psychological suspense, and for the richness of its emotions, ideas, and language. These are the confessions, years afterward, of a young man who found at a small Vermont college the life of privilege and intellect he’d long coveted – and rarely has the glorious experience of youth infatuated with knowledge and with itself been so achingly realized. Then, amazed, Richard Papen is drawn into the ultimate inner circle: five students, worldly and self-assured, selected by a charismatic classics professor to participate in the search for truth and beauty. Together they study the mysteries of ancient Greek culture and spend long weekends at an old country house, reading, boating, basking in an Indian summer that stretches late into autumn. Mesmerized by his new comrades, Richard is unaware of the crime which they have committed in his dreamy, unwitting presence. But once taken into their confidence, he and the others slowly and inevitably begin to believe in the necessity of murdering the one classmate and friend who might betray both their secret and their future. Hugely ambitious and compulsively readable, this is a chronicle of deception and complicity, of Dionysian abandon, of innocence corrupted by self-love and moral arrogance; and, finally, it is a story of guilt and responsibility. An astonishing achievement by any standard, The Secret History immediately establishes Donna Tartt as a supremely gifted novelist.

Date Published: September 29, 1996

Date Read: July 06, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine Books

No. of Pages: 524

Setting: Vermont, USA

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary, Dark Academia

Get Your Copy Here: Amazon | Book Depository

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Intriguing and lyrical.

The Secret History is the first book I have read by Donna Tartt and for so long I have been intrigued by it, it was so popular it’s already considered a crime if you haven’t read it (ahhh so much puns haha).  The Secret History started off as a solid book for me but ended up as a letdown. Let’s just say I am not a big fan, and I am a minority here, but hear me out. I completely understand why this has been a favorite by many, it was beguiling, lyrical, intriguing and truly engaging. It is the kind of book that once you’ve started reading, you just can’t simply put it down. It demands your attention, and you’ll give it. Much like how I spent hours reading it, it was enigmatic and will just pull you in. You thought you’ve read quite a lot of pages only to find out that in reality you only have read 5 pages or so. It was dense and verbose, so much so that I found it unnecessarily long. The beautiful writing style suffered because of how lengthy the book was. There were too many parts that the book can definitely do away with, it could have been condensed into 300+ page book without losing its essence. Maybe I would have liked it more had it been shorter, there I said it.

Reading The Secret History gave me the feeling that I missed out on important details, but no, I have read the book from the very first page down to the last line and I am positive I didn’t miss out on anything. I even read the part where the book was telling what happened to each characters, much like at the end of a movie. I don’t know if it is for closure’s sake, or what the story required, or I honestly don’t know what was it all for. A huge chunk of it could have been removed and it wouldn’t make any difference to the story.

What I commend about this book though, is the atmosphere set by Donna Tartt. It was equal parts chilling and hypnotizing. She has this way with words that completely enamor her reader, drawing them in like the proverbial moth to a flame. Donna Tartt will capture your interest and hold it for however long she likes. I am a slow reader, I only get to read at night and in between work, but whenever I get the chance to open this book I am filled with this excitement to finish it, I was anticipating how it will end, I have played so many scenarios in my head on how the ending will play out and maybe that’s why I didn’t love it. My mind is already set for something colossal to happen, something gasp-inducing or some mind-fucking extravaganza, and nothing of the sort happened. It was a little flat for me. Such brilliant writing style warranted a twist that would leave its reader in daze, sadly that wasn’t what happened here, at least for me.

Let’s talk about the characters. We have Richard Papen, our narrator. Richard’s point of view completely added some sense of mystery in the story. Reading it felt like I am his character and I am a part of the story. We have Henry, who embodies the word enigmatic. He is the character I expected so much from. The mastermind among them. His character was very distinct, someone you either hate or love. Towards the end I was anticipating some trickery on his part, some kind of grand manipulation and all that, but this didn’t quite reflect on how the book ended. We have the twins Charles and Camilla, characters that are indispensable in the story. Both of them played an enormous part leading to the climax. I can’t say so much without spoiling anything. Then finally we have Bunny, the root cause of the whole book. His character was presented, at least for me, in a way to justify his murder. To make it look like they have all the reasons to commit such a crime. This isn’t a spoiler since his murder is already mentioned the first paragraph of the book. These characters acted way too mature for their ages, they drank a lot, use drugs quite a lot as well, and they have these cunning minds that you would be surprised how callous they do things. Dark academia said to be unofficial name of the genre deals with novels set in campuses with dark underlying theme may it be mystery or murder. Dark Academia is something new to me, I have read quite few books set in campuses but not so much on the darker concept. This genre surely appealed to me, I would want to read more of it. 

Dark Academia novels contain elements of both satire and tragedy, and they tend to focus on the humanities and liberal arts, these tend to play a role as the passions of the main characters, which ends up driving them too far. The genre has a tendency to over-romantizice a liberal arts education, xxx.

Excerpt from LitCrit: Dark Academia by blackhholesbooks

The reverse murder mystery isn’t what I often read in mystery thrillers. We are spared from guessing who killed who and the motive behind all of it. The reverse murder mystery didn’t really work favorably, because of its nature, the readers look forward to how the murder will come about, the before, during and after up to the climax of it all. Readers were led to believe that there would be something colossal that would transpire, at least it felt like that for me and when it ended the way it did I was more annoyed than satisfied.

It would be quite a while for me to pick up another Donna Tartt book, I heard Goldfinch is better than The Secret History but I will be saving that up in the far future. It was a lengthy book and I do feel a little proud that I finished it in a short span of time, sadly I wasn’t turned into a huge fan.

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“There is nothing wrong with the love of Beauty. But Beauty – unless she is wed to something more meaningful – is always superficial.”

― Donna Tartt, The Secret History

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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman | ARC Review

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The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.

Date of Publication: July 09, 2019

Date Read: June 27, 2019

Publisher: Berkley Romance

Number of Pages: 352 pages

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Fiction

Setting: Los Angeles, California

Get your copy here: Amazon

Source: Berkley Publishing sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Cute, nerdy, fluffy and feel good book! Every reader would find Nina Hill their spirit animal! Loved this one to bits!

I can’t wait for everyone to read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill! It was the ray of sunshine on a gloomy day, or that warm blanket on a cold night, or the cooler side of the pillow, or just your favorite comfort food at the end of a depressing day. It was just too cute, unabashedly nerdy and relatable to fault! Aren’t we all a little Nina Hill one way or another?

We follow the life of Nina Hill and how it suddenly turned upside down overnight. How her little world was not so little after all upon finding out about her new and utterly big family. Have I told you how much I love everything about this book?  From Nina being bookish, her working in a bookstore, trivia teams, a hint of family drama and a cute romance to tie everything, I mean what is not to love? I love that this book is light and feel good, definitely the book you’ll need to cheer you up! Those books are hard to come by these days, so whenever you chance upon one, you’ll treasure it like no other, much like how I treasure The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. And would you look at that awesome cover? Nothing I quite gravitates towards more than a yellow and sky blue cover. I reckon now that books with yellow covers are definitely good reads, fight me on this one (oh wait I just remembered one particular yellow book with such a very boring story, but that is for some other time). Haha

I know I always say this, but ever since I have read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine I tend to look for it in some books I read. And it so happened that The Bookish Life of Nina Hill had a minor resemblance to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. And what a delight it was for me! Let’s just say The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is the subtler, funnier, lighter version of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and it was just amazing. The one about their mothers stopped me in my tracks really, I really thought they have the same fate. That’s why I really loved The Bookish Life of Nina Hill it had everything I wanted in a good read. To those who haven’t read both books you are in for a huge treat!

Seriously, a book about a bookworm? That is a no brainer for me! I would read that in a heartbeat. I’m so glad this book existed, it was all my nerdy dream! I could relate to Nina Hill more than I could admit myself. Nina Hill with a schedule she follows quite religiously, Nina Hill who’d rather read than go out on a Friday night. Nina Hill who enjoys the company of few select people. Nina Hill who has three bookshelves filled with books she loved. Sounds very much like me. I love how it accurately describes a bookworm. I love the other characters as well, I love how each of them resembles Nina, from her father down to her niece. It’s like Nina is an amalgamation of all of her relatives – each having a unique connection with her. Making Nina feel a certain sense of belongingness, though she didn’t want it a first. And of course let’s not forget about Tom here, Tom and Nina’s romance was played out really well, it wasn’t the main focus of the book but it definitely made the whole story even better. I love how cute it was!

This book had the perfect humor, more often than not I catch myself laughing way more than necessary. It is the perfect rom com! It will give you that perfect rom-com vibes – the feel good type. One you’ll still think about for days on end. One you fall back into over and over. This is that book for me. And while true, this book is funny, humorous and light it also presented serious matters, one that I completely appreciated. It has depth and maturity. The writing style was brilliant, engaging and full of wits and humor. Charming and captivating, it was so likable without even trying so hard! Now this is the first book I have read by Abbi Waxman, and it sure isn’t the last one. I now have a new go-to author whenever I need a pick-me upper! It left me with a big smile on my face!

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“If you’re not scared, you’re not brave.” 
― Abbi Waxman, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

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{Thank you @berkleypub for a free copy of this books} #partner ••• THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL by ABBI WAXMAN . SYNOPSIS: . The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They're all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She'll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It's a disaster! And as if that wasn't enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn't he realize what a terrible idea that is? Nina considers her options. 1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.) 2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee). 3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.) It's time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn't convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It's going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page. . ••• Ahhhhhhh a book I’m sure every reader would like! Reading the synopsis I got the Eleanor Oliphant vibe. And that makes me super excited! I’m sure I’m gonna be reading this sooner rather than later! ••• #TheBookishLifeofNinaHill #AbbiWaxman #berkleypub #berkleybookstagram

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