All My Lonely Islands by VJ Campilan: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: One crisp March evening, Crisanta and Ferdinand arrive on the remote Batanes islands for a mission: locate Graciella, whose son, Stevan, they saw die in a tragic accident a decade ago. But they need to confess something to her: Stevan’s death is not all what it seems. Oppressed by a decade of painful memories, Crisanta and Ferdinand must race against time—from the wild swamplands of the Sundarban forest in Bangladesh to the back alleys of Manila to the savage cliffs of Batanes—to offer Graciella the truth that they themselves cannot bear to face.

Publisher: Anvil Publishing

Date Published:  2017

Date Read: February 2017

Number of Pages: 204

Setting: Batanes, Philippines / Dhaka, Bangladesh

Get your copy here.

Source: Sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review

Exceptional writing style, truly worthy of its praise.

This book won the Grand Prize for the Novel 2015 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for a reason. It is without a doubt truly worthy of that prestigious award. Now how to give the justice it deserves? I have zero idea, but I’m trying anyway. I have to point out first that this book is very well-written in all sense of the word. The words used in each sentences were carefully crafted so as to give life to the story. And though it was fairly a short read, it was a book that you need to savor. It is the book that you don’t rush finishing, but still ultimately look forward for an unadulterated time to be alone with it. It has this melancholic vibe to it that one can’t simply shake off. A book that will give you that sense of foreboding and as the story peaks up, you’re hanging on to every sentence leading to the inevitable end.

I truly adored how the story was written, it was a recollection of Crisanta’s life  from childhood up to her teenage years in Dhaka, Bangladesh and all the events that transpired between then and the present times. How the main character was able to reconcile the demons of her past with her present self. And can we also talk about how the narration was so vivid and beautiful it is as if you are truly there in the story. Batanes, Dhaka and Sundarban were all described with such eloquence and impressive imagery. The author painted these places in such a beautiful light, without sugarcoating it. It was presented in the most realistic way possible and I think that contributed to the overall beauty of the book. All My Lonely Islands also highlighted a lot of Filipino cultures and traditions though most of the book transpired in Dhaka Bangladesh. A book I will definitely recommend to those who would want to know  more about the Philippines and its haunting beauty.

Each character was unique – flawed, yes, but forgivable. Take for an instance Ferdinand, this troubled boy who didn’t have an easier life and was always living up to what people purports him to be. Oh that part when his parents found out that he was in trouble, the relief on their faces – because he was something they could define. Good god, that was a great explanation. I don’t want to reveal much of it, I wouldn’t want to spoil anyone anyway. I loved Ferdinand’s character, this may not be the same to others. But his character was the one who improved a whole lot. Crisanta’s character on the other hand was pretty consistent one, her character was the perfect depiction of every Filipino teenager, or every teenager for that matter. I was able to relate to her in more ways than one. And Stevan, how do I even start with Stevan? I wish there was more of Stevan. He was the character I wanted to know more of. He seems to be that boy who was also trying hard to survive each of his grueling days in high school, just as much as everyone else. Every character in this book was well thought out adding color to the story.

The subtle hints provided by the author in each chapter was enough to keep you going, enough to keep you interested. It wasn’t revealing everything at the first instance, there was the element of surprise and coherence. Every event was connected to the other. The side stories are also exceptional, like the one about Pobrito, man, that hit me hard. It was heartbreaking, ugly, depressing and yet I was so drawn to it, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Who would have thought that this was only the first book of the author? It seems to me that she had been writing all her life to come up with something that’ll hit you hard, of something that is so thought-provoking you couldn’t help but pause and ponder on the words you just read. And if being a Filipino is the only association I can have with this author, then I am damn proud to be a Filipino. Filipino talents are indeed world class, this book is the proof of it. This book struck a special cord in my heart, I’m confident to tell (yes even just two months in the year) that this book will be included in my Top 17 Books of 2017. This book deserves to be read even once in one’s lifetime. Honestly the blurb didn’t give the book much justice. If I passed by this one in a bookstore and read that blurb, I would be curious, but not enough to be inclined to read it right away. I just wish there was more to the blurb, it wasn’t able to fully grasp the whole beauty of the book. This is the only issue I have with this book, but hey this is what reviews are for. So I’m really trying my best to persuade you guys to not just depend on blurbs. Take a chance on a book, take a chance on this one!

That ending was exactly what the book needed – it was a closure. I felt more satisfied than ever, I appreciated that it took its sweet time. Not one thing was forced, it is as if everything happened at its own pace, at its own perfect time. Everything culminated and unfolded into this simple yet profound tale. Im glad I have read this one, made me value life more.

Rating: rating_5stars

“You’re trying to look for rock bottom, to that part of yourself that could no longer feel pain. But there is no such thing as rock bottom. As long as there is left to destroy in you, you’d do it. We always feel the need to sink ourselves because we keep being intolerable, because if we’re suffering then maybe people would give us a break for all the shameful things we do. You think you could impose your own penance, but it never goes away, does it? That kind of deadening that’s worse than actual dying.”

― V.J. CampilanAll My Lonely Islands

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Lace Bone Beast: Poems and Fairytales for Wicked Girls by N.L. Shompole: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: Here is emptiness. Here is a mouth after a recent excavation, black with soot, devoid of kisses. Here are hands, trembling against the soft ache of morning, here are eyes, wet, wide, half-full of sky and loneliness. Here is belly, back, femur, spine, ragged and smooth all at once, all at once. Here are dreams, ink black and speckled, lost behind the eyes. Here is a muted elegy, crow’s feet feathered over the eyes like lace. Here are the last strains of a dirge, wild, discordant, free.

Publisher: http://kingdomsinthewild.com/

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

Date Read:  December 2016

Source: Publisher provided me an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW

For big fans of milk and honey by  Rupi Kaur you will definitely enjoy this one, or even more. Lace Bone Beast isn’t something you come across often, it was truly a gem. The way the author painted each scenario is impeccable, enough for you to devour every thing that is written. The poems were sincere and raw, it had the power of enthralling its reader without overdoing it. It was perfectly digestible, every meaning of each poem was not lost on me. It has the ability to draw you in, it has the ability to elaborate something so profound and offer it to you in a different light. It empowers just as much as it accepts you as your true self. You don’t encounter something like this on a daily basis, it was an affirmation of life’s ever mysterious ways such as grief, love, forgiveness, self-worth and everything in between. It was truly something one should read at least once in his lifetime.

NL Shompole has the talent on making you feel the impact of her every word. And I now consider her as one of my favorite poets. I love that her poems are something you can identify with and is also something that only gets better each time you read them. Her poetry is brimming with wisdom. They say poetry is the highest form of literature, and NL Shompole did an amazing job in this collection. It was subtle when it needs to be, and assertive when it must. You wouldn’t miss the message it was trying to send across. It had a keen observation to details without missing the essence of each poem. It wasn’t overwhelming. If for anything, it offers comfort and support.

It was surely a pleasure to read this poetry book, I can highly recommend this one to readers who want to venture out on poetry. NL Shompole’s writing style will hit you straight to your heart, and yes it will linger. Her poetry is the kind of poetry you’ll crave once in while.

Rating: rating_5stars

the heart is a casket for forgotten things

Love the body through

all the stages of ruin, and
resurrection.
 
Love the body through
the dark winter, and
into spring.
 
Love the body
for it has housed you
through the collapse, and
the catastrophe.

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All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai: ARC Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we’d have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn’t necessary.

Except Tom just can’t seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that’s before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.

But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.

All Our Wrong Todays is about the versions of ourselves that we shed and grow into over time. It is a story of friendship and family, of unexpected journeys and alternate paths, and of love in its multitude of forms. Filled with humor and heart, and saturated with insight and intelligence and a mind-bending talent for invention, this novel signals the arrival of a major talent.

Publisher: Dutton Books

Date of Publication: February 7, 2017

Date Read: February 2017

No. of Pages: 384 pages

Setting: Toronto, Canada

Source: The publisher provided me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW

Alternate universe can’t get any better than this!

I would just like to thank the heavens for the existence of this book. This book is just ridiculously good, I wonder if it is even legal. Elan Mastai sure knows how to tickle his readers’ minds through his elaborate and eloquent play on words. His writing style is something I could not get enough of. I was always in awe how he constructs a sentence. Pure genius if you ask me. And the storyline, it was original and a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t forcing its readers to like it. It was like second nature, you will inevitably and irrevocably fall in love with it. It wasn’t over doing stuff, it was as smooth as it can be. It was as awesome and entertaining without trying hard. I mean, it is true, beautiful things never seek attention. It was just brilliant and it didn’t even have to try so hard.

As an established fact, I am not a huge SciFi fan. I was kind of hesitant to accept this one for review since I don’t think I could give it any justice much less fully grasp what the story was about. I find it hard to read through SciFi and I wouldn’t deny it, but this book right here is a pure delight. Made me want to reconsider my stance on science fiction, I mean if all scifi books will be as good as this then I will make it my life’s mission to read every one of it.

Elan Mastai built a world so utterly amazing. You have to give it to him for thinking outside the box with this one. What’s even cooler is, parallel universe has always been a fascination of mine. I always wonder what if we do have a parallel world where everything is right and perfect. This book fulfilled my fascination, even exceeded it. Only a pure genius could come up with something so complex yet so enjoyable to read. Jonathan Tropper blurbed it like this: “A Novel about time travel has no right to be this engaging. A novel this engaging has no right to be this smart. A novel this smart has no right to be this funny, or insightful, or immersive. This novel has no right to exist.” And that my friends is the most accurate thing to say about this book. I agree 100% with Jonathan Tropper.

Tom Barren’s voice sounded familiar and somewhat comforting, maybe because its readers can somehow see themselves in him. Not in its full sense though, but at least remotely. It wasn’t trying to impress, if for anything it wasn’t trying at all, it was that effective. The narration was witty yet you couldn’t miss the underlying tone to it. The words used were deliberately chosen, it was consistent and enjoyable to read. Imagine being in a Jesse Eisenberg movie. He was definitely the only person I pictured as Tom Barren. Now go back to thinking about his movies, notice that he has this way of narrating things, almost sounding bored yet effective. I couldn’t quite explain it, but I do hope you get the idea.  This book is just begging to be made into a movie, and I will be the first in line to watch it! The mixture of time-travel, post apocalypse, love story, self discovery along with technical terms and all that jazz, completely won me over. Hats off. Did I mention this book was pure genius?

I highly, highly, highly, and I mean HIGHLY recommend this book. It was well though-out, thought provoking, funny, witty, writing style was flawless and I tell you, reading it will give you a different sense of adventure. It wasn’t just a book made to entertain, but it was written to show a reflection of one’s self. A perfect depiction of how it feels to be trapped in your own body when it feels like you should be living a different life. This book was a metaphor at best and it would be such shame if you won’t give yourself the satisfaction of knowing this book.

Rating: rating_5stars

“You love someone for fifty years and then they die. People talk about grief as emptiness, but it’s not empty. It’s full. Heavy. Not an absence to fill. A weight to pull. Your skin caught on hooks chained to rough boulders made of all the futures you thought you would have.”
Elan Mastai, All Our Wrong Todays

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Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner: ARC Book Review

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Synopsis from GoodreadsLisa Gardner’s next thriller following her runaway New York Times bestseller Find Her takes her wildly popular brand of suspense to new heights.

Is he a hero?

Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. About to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner, Sharlah loves one thing best about her new family: They are all experts on monsters.

Is he a killer?

Then the call comes in. A double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through the wilds of Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence: The shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly Ray Nash, and it appears his killing spree has only just begun.

All she knows for sure: He’s back.

As the clock winds down on a massive hunt for Telly, Quincy and Rainie must answer two critical questions: Why after eight years has this young man started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah? Once upon a time, Sharlah’s big brother saved her life. Now, she has two questions of her own: Is her brother a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final, shattering truth? Because as Sharlah knows all too well, the biggest danger is the one standing right behind you.

Publisher: Dutton Books

Publication Date: January 31, 2017

Date Read: January 31, 2017

Pages: 421

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

REVIEW

 

A crime thriller with a HEART!

Thriller is another genre that I have barely scratched the surface of. I am not by any stretch of imagination a connoisseur in the subject, but that doesn’t necessarily make my opinion invalid right? I know a good book when I read one, at least I could take pride in that. Anyway, Dutton Books asked me if I would love to review Lisa Gardner’s new thriller. I have never read anything by her (I know! Have I been living under a rock?) and so when an opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it. Let’s just say, Lisa Gardner is now included in my Autobuy Authors List. 

Right Behind You took the words clever and gripping into a whole new level. I finished the book in two and half days, which seldom happens nowadays (insert life and work here), so I guess that must have at least amounted to something. Right Behind You is a satisfying and joyful thriller ride. You have to give it to Lisa Gardner to capture her readers’ attention and be able to sustain the momentum until the very last page. It was impossible to put down, I was reading through traffic, inside the elevator, whilst cooking, literally every chance I get. It was in the way the story was narrated that captivated me. It shifts to first person narration to third person without losing its magic, if for anything, it added to the texture and flavor of the book. And there is always beauty in anticipating the twist, in solving the puzzle along with the characters in the book. It is as if you are there with them. The characters are distinct. Especially Telly Ray Nash and Sharlah, these two though flawed had redeeming qualities of their own, they are enigmatic yet somehow you will be able to relate to them. Telly Ray Nash’s character was something consistent and not at the same time, I don’t know how to put it but when you are reading his character, you will develop some sense of faith in him. Even if the first chapters presented him in a bad light you just can’t help but to somehow root for him. The characters’ connection to each other made the story cohesive, not one character who is dispensable, every single one played an important role. And yes, even the dogs!! Ahhh I love love love how the dogs are incorporated in this book! Luka and MollyWog! Ahhh those two made this book even more enjoyable to read! Lisa Gardner’s writing was clean and polished, she was able to draw out the proper emotions and set the proper mood, and not many authors can do that. It is literally the book that will have you zoned out while reading it. Nothing matters in the world but the story in the book, and that is something truly noteworthy.

Right Behind You isn’t just about the revelation of who did what, it was more than what it conveys. It is a mystery thriller with a HEART. And I wouldn’t lie, I really teared up at some parts. I’m not even sure what really won me over, is it because of the depth of the story or the way it was cleverly written. All I know is, this definitely wouldn’t be the last Lisa Gardner book that I will read. It was well-thought out. It was about a book tackling abuse, violence and (gruesome) murders. Each chapter will leave you with immense need to know what’s going to unfold next, and as cliche as it may sound I had to hold my breath at some chapters, that’s how gripping and intense it was. The only thing that prevented me from giving it full five star rating was some parts have become repetitive to a fault, especially the one explaining about Telly Ray Nash’s condition or mental state also what happened eight years ago. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves crime thrillers.

 

Rating: rating_4stars

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Among The Lost (In Dante’s Wake) by Seth Steinzor | Poetic Book Tours

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Synopsis from GoodreadsAmong the Lost, set in the modern American rust belt, is a meditation drawn from Dante’s Purgatorio. To Dante, Purgatory was the mountain where souls not damned went after death to cleanse themselves of sin in preparation for entering Paradise. What, Steinzor asks, are we preparing ourselves for, having lost the fear of hell and the hope of heaven, in the course of our daily urban existence? And whatever that is, how do we go about preparing for it?

Publisher: Fomite Press

Date Published: November 2016

Date Read: January 2017

Source: Poetic Book Tours

 

REVIEW

 

As part of Poetic Book Tours I was asked by Serena if I would be willing to join in reading and reviewing Among The Lost, I have always been a fan of Dante’s Circles of Hell, and after learning that Among The Lost is inspired by Dante’s Purgatorio, I knew then I have to be a part of this Book Tour or I will probably regret it. Seth Steinzor’s poetry is rich and on point. Often times there’s no beating around the bush, he writes what needs to be said, with such gusto and precision that you can help but pause and ponder on the truth it was revealing. And the truth was, our existence had been tainted with mostly horrible and unimaginable things. The book was divided into different Canto, where our narrator encounters different scenario and different people with varied dilemma or varied traits. It was heavily political and realistic at the same time, which at times hard to get into but once you get the hang of it, it will be something you truly appreciate. Among the Lost used modern setting to juxtapose those of ancient times, which was truly remarkable. Seth Steinzor “modernized” a classic many of us loved. He concoct his poetry into something relevant and timely, something one could identify with.

I have not read the first book, so I had no way of comparing them. This poetry book may not be for everyone, at times I get confused on certain references, thus making it hard for me to completely grasp what was being conveyed. In the same vein I could not fully recommend this one to those people who are just beginning to appreciate poetry as this one may not be as engaging, but then it is something worth a try, especially to the ones who wanted to read more in depth portrayal of government and the society. But one thing I have to say – Seth Steinzor’s writing style is truly magnificent. He had a way with words that made the book more appealing and it was a bonus that this book was told in story form following the journey of the narrator from one specific stage or path onto another.

I specifically liked this excerpt from his poem Canto VI: In the Clouds

Telling you of this brings it back to me as

if I were standing there! – and after

not too many heartbeats thinking this:

The sight of these two mammals enjoying so

fully the little they have in common should shame you to

weeping, America! How hard can it

be to care for one another? Your rich

begrudge your poor their mite. Your poor

begrudge each other. The ones in the middle fear

the ones below them, bend the knee to the

 

moneyed, and keep an eye on their neigbors. The space a

dollar takes is more than you would

spare the creatures around you. You’re free with this:

you shit your nest and everywhere else. You

stomp around the world with an anxious smile and a

big knife, taking whatever you

want, and whoever gets in your way had better

look to god for help. You wonder

why they hate you, who cried your name with longing…

About the Author:

Seth Steinzor protested the Vietnam War during his high school years near Buffalo, New York, and his years at Middlebury College, advocated Native American causes after law school, and has made a career as a civil rights attorney, criminal prosecutor, and welfare attorney for the State of Vermont. Throughout he has written poetry. In early 1980s Boston he edited a small literary journal. His first, highly praised book, To Join the Lost, was published in 2010.

Available on Amazon.

Rating: rating_3stars

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: Book Review

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Synopsis from GoodreadsWhen four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Publisher: Doubleday

Date Published: March 10, 2015

Date Read: November 2016

No. of Pages: 720 pages

Setting: New York

REVIEW

 

A Little Life is a slow burn. It would consume you bit by bit until it becomes part of you. Until it inhabits your soul.

After much contemplation and deliberation on what would be the most eloquent and convincing words to put in this review, still I came up short. Well for starters, I honestly don’t think I can give this book the justice it deserves. But because I have a social responsibility (yes I do believe book bloggers/reviewers have a moral obligation/ social responsibility) to at least convince even a single soul to read this book, then I would have to do with whatever my mind could grasp and deliver in this review, however vague or however too all over the place it may sound. Just bear with me on this one.

A Little Life will change you. I would have to start with that warning, or wisdom whichever way you want to look at it. It will change your perspective, may it be for the better or otherwise, it is all up to you on how you will take it. A Little Life isn’t for everyone, not for the faint-hearted, not for the impatient ones, not for the squeamish, not for the weak. I guess before diving into this book you have to prepare yourself and I don’t mean it in a shallow way. Prepare yourself to get hurt. Prepare yourself to shed tears and I mean lots of it. Prepare yourself to die a little inside, repeatedly. Prepare yourself to be shaken to the core. Prepare yourself to feel immense sadness. And even then, yes even with all the preparations you took, the precautionary measures you’ve set, you’re never ready for the inevitable impact. It will be something that will haunt you in your lifetime, I guarantee that. A Little Life needs your undivided attention, it needs your time and your whole heart. You don’t rush it, it is that kind of book you savour. I finished reading it in a month. I’m not a fast reader, on a monthly average I could do 5-7 books, and that’s not really a lot considering the work I have and other commitments, but I managed to finish this in a month which I can say as a pretty decent pace. I could have rushed it if I wanted to, but I have learned that this is the kind of book you don’t rush finishing. It is something you relish. You have to feel for the characters, you have to know them well, the ins and out of their lives just like how you treat a real friend. Because for a moment while you are immersed in their story, they are real too. You’ll appreciate how layered the story was and how rich the words used by the author. It was carefully crafted, the words were deliberately used to make a statement, to transcend outside the confines of the pages. It was lyrical as it is raw. There were too many wisdom from each page, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve ran out of tabs to use. And those are not just mere words jumbled to make a sentence, it was the affirmation of the life we are living, or the lives we never thought possible, or the lives we wish we had. It was all encompassing. Its beauty lies in the complexities and how all the lives of the characters intertwine making a beautiful tapestry.

New York as its setting added to the beauty of the book. How it was able to paint the city in such simple yet captivating light. The beauty of New York was not really the focus of the book, but it definitely set the mood of the entire story. There was a sense of tranquility and feeling of warmth that the book was trying to convey, while masking something so profound and larger than life. I could not quite fully explain it but the book had this pull on you, that once you started reading it wherever you maybe you’ll always go back to the story. It is as if it is summoning you to come back to it. The story will ricochet in your head every chance it gets. It is really something one could not easily forget. 

The characters are well thought-out, they are flawed yet had redeeming qualities you couldn’t miss. They have the power to make you feel as though you know them personally, they speak to you in a level of understanding that you didn’t even know is possible. I loved how the author was able to put history into different characters making them unique and truly realistic. It was complex and at the same time rich and colorful. A Little Life will show you two sides of a coin – the cruelty of human and the goodness in their hearts. And though it might not be something you are accustomed to reading, much like in my experience, it will give you the sense of realization that indeed life has many facets and faces and the beauty of it is coming to the conclusion that wherever it might lead us there’s always something to learn from it, one should just find the silver lining of it all.

Jude’s story had me bawling, there was this heavy weight on my chest that I just couldn’t lift off. His story was disturbing and yet I was so drawn to it that I had to know what happened in the end. Reading his story was an emotional torture  at best. And I didn’t know I had that strength to read through that. It was not only Jude’s story that struck me to my core. As I’ve said all these characters have rich history, they are beautiful in their own right. I loved Willem’s story as well and I think I cried for Willem just as much as I cried for Jude. And don’t get me started with Harold, that last part had me crying silent tears, my heart is breaking for him too!

You have to have the proper mindset before delving into the depths of this book. It has sensitive topics that are shocking to the conscience but at the same time needs to be addressed.It truly turned me into a different person. It felt like I had to look at the world in a maturer way, seeing the details with new eyes. There was something melancholic and page after page you will feel a sense of foreboding, something one could not simply ignore. Every torment, every tear shed, every emotional distress, they were all worth it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

RATING: rating_5stars

 

“Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified.”
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

 

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Nerdy Talks Top 16 Books of 2016

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Hey all! I’ve been quite busy the past weeks, and to be completely honest I was in a blogging and bookstagramming slump (yes there is such thing), I blame the holiday season. I know we all had that “moment” when all our creative juices seem to fly out of the window, I was having a serious case of it for quite a while, but hey I am back with a blog post! Of course I wouldn’t let the year pass without sharing with you guys my favourite reads of 2016. 2016 was a great reading year for me, I’ve discovered new favorite authors, enjoyed genres I didn’t know I would enjoy and met amazing “bookish” people. It was a year of saying yes to a whole lot of opportunities and discovering myself in the process. It is true what they say, books become part of who we are. And these books truly made a difference in me!

P.S. I did not include poetry books here since I will be making a separate post about it. You can check Top 16 Poetry Books of 2016 here.

Shall we begin?

  1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

22822858 A Little Life took the cake, this is without an iota of doubt my favorite read of 2016. I have not made a review of it, yes, why you ask? I’m afraid I won’t be able to give it the justice it truly deserves. Imagine yourself inside a house on fire, at first you’ll feel the heat, next moment you’re suffocating from the thick smoke, the next thing you know fire is already enveloping you. Pretty morbid comparison, but that’s how it feels to read A Little Life. It will not immediately hurt you, it will happen in such a gradual manner, an emotional torture, a relentless beating, it was such a slow  burn rendering you helpless and emotionally drained. Not that it was a dragging read, it wasn’t, it’s just that you have to feel all of it to fully appreciate the book. This book needs your undivided attention, it may look like it is a tedious job to finish it, but I tell you it is so rewarding you’ll be thanking yourself forever. After reading A Little Life, I feel like I am a different person, I came out maturer and wiser, dare I say. A Little Life is a book that needs to be read even once in a person’s lifetime. Jude’s story may have been hard to digest and at times too much to bear, but you will just automatically be drawn to him just like the proverbial moth to the flame. As Hanya Yanagihara puts it, “Jude’s character is deeply frustrating to read yet easy to write.” I was also happy to have met this amazing author, definitely a highlight of my 2016.

2. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
25883848Just by thinking of this book sends endorphins all over me. I am smiling like a lunatic just by the mention of the name Joshua Templeman. I am so in love with this book, it is already bordering obsession. You can check my full review of the book here.

Sally Thorne reminded me of Sophie Kinsella and Cora Carmack’s writing. She surely knows how to formulate the right words to make a funny, romantic and a total page turner story. I super loved Joshua and Lucy’s banters, and the palpable sexual tension. I loved that it wasn’t just a romantic comedy novel, but also it had depth. Everything was just well played out, it had the perfect amount of drama, romance and fun! I think it is my life mission to shove this book down every person’s throat. I feel sorry for those people who have not read this book yet, I mean guys, what is wrong with you? You’re missing half of your life. Like seriously, go and buy this book now!

3. The Radleys by Matt Haig

41pckvr7bql-_sx324_bo1204203200_The Radleys is a book that completely surprised me. It may have a low rating on Goodreads, but that didn’t stop me from reading this one. The Radleys is my first vampire read, yes you read that right. I was expecting something mediocre and something common, I didn’t expect it to offer something new in the table. But boy, this book surprised me. I may not be a wide vampire book reader, but I know good stuff when I read one, and this book did not disappoint. It was well thought out, the characters are engaging and unique. The back story had me hooked I was flying through the pages and finished it in a day. Matt Haig’s writing style is addictive. He sure as hell gained a fan in me. You can check my full review of the book here

4. The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins

girlonthetrain Prepare to hold your breath the last 50 pages or so.  You are in for some mind blowing, heart racing and gasp inducing ride. This book had the perfect amount of suspense and drama. And though this book is constantly compared to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, this book is different and worthy of anyone’s time. It is beautiful and engaging in its own right, and quite frankly I liked this one more than Gone Girl. 

The Girl on The Train‘s twist is something I did not see coming. It was more like an unexpected smack in the face. Paula Hawkins’ talent on trickery and mind fckery is something you sure wouldn’t want to miss. I have not seen the movie but I heard Emily Blunt did a great job portraying the role of Rachel, I think I will watch that after writing this blog entry. You can check my full review of the book here. 

5. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Taylor Jenkins Reid is another new favorite author, and it only takes one book by her to convince me. Maybe In Another Life is a good take on the dilemmas of being an adult, on the struggle of being stuck in a limbo, of being lost in your life or confused as to what you wanted to be. Maybe In Another Life is an affirmation that though life may have played cruel jokes on you, you’ll still end up where you should be – and that you’ll find happiness in it, wherever it may be and whoever it be with. Maybe In Another Life is an unconventional style of story telling, it offers alternate endings, it is like reading two books in one. This is one of the main reasons why this book appealed to me so much. So much so that Taylor Jenkins Reid instantly became a favorite author. You can see my full review of the book here. 

6. The Forbidden by Tabitha Suzama

8349244Forbidden is an incest story, yes, you read that right and no I did not ruin it for you, it is included in the blurb. So don’t go hating on me. And while this book talks about a taboo, it is something so gripping and heartbreaking you couldn’t miss the way the author painted it in such a beautiful and haunting light. This book had me bawling at the wee hours of the night,  it is like my heart was barely surviving. That ending shook me to my core, it was bound to have a heart wrenching ending, but boy I was not prepared for it. Tabitha Suzama’s writing style is unflinchingly beautiful, lyrical and too raw. Maya and Logan’s story is something that would stay in my head for a long time, more like forever. I hope everyone would give this book a try. It was a gamble reading this one, but it was worth taking that risk. It challenged me as a reader and as a person, that at least counts for something. You can check the full review of the book here. 

7. Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

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Renee Carlino is yet another new found favorite author of 2016. I have read three books by her: Swear on This Life, Sweet Thing and Before We Were Strangers. Before We Were Strangers is my ultimate favorite so far. This book is my fantasy put into paper. It is  that one book that had me saying “Damn, I wish I wrote that.”. Before We Were Strangers is a story of missed connections, of second chances and forgiveness, of how great love always finds their way back despite the time and distance. The characters are as flawed and as human as they will ever be, I loved how it felt real. I appreciated that it wasn’t forced or just written for the sake of having a story to publish. The one that got away stories always have a special place in my heart. Gahhh it was just so beautiful. You can check my full review of it here. 

8. The Vegetarian by Han Kang

the_vegetarian_-_han_kangThis book will lure you into this pit of calmness and plunge you into this unsettling abyss that will stay in your head for days, yes days. It is a book you won’t easily forget. It will inhabit your mind like a guest who has overstayed their welcome. – An excerpt of my review that you can check out here.

The Vegetarian is another book that left me in such a daze. It was different from all I have read before. This book was a good take on the topic of mental illness. Lyrical and haunting. Han Kang’s writing style is on point yet had that power of plaguing your mind like it was an unresolved mystery. Fans of Haruki Murakami will surely enjoy Han Kang’s book. It gave off the same vibe as that of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood.

9. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

16122081While historical fiction isn’t my cup of tea, Burial Rites  made me want to try more books under this genre. I thought I would be struggling finishing this one but Hannah Kent’s writing style proved to be something so engaging and enthralling that I couldn’t help but devour the book in a much shorter span of time that what I have anticipated.

Burial Rites is a well researched masterpiece. You will appreciate the author’s hard work and effort in coming up with such brilliant narration of the life of woman accused of murder and her subsequent execution as well as the story that surrounded it. It was written in such a way that was powerful yet gentle. Agnes’ character will simply grow in you, and you’ll develop a sense of empathy. Reading this book will make you think that this isn’t the first book of the author, it was so beautifully written you could very well tell that the author had a long experience writing novels, but no, this book is Hannah Kent’s first novel and it was amazing. Nothing short of perfect to me. Imagine if she has more books under her belt, imagine how much beautiful her books could get. We are in for some huge treat! Hannah Kent sure is an author to watch out for. You can check my full review of the book here. 

10. Kyland by Mia Sheridan

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Mia Sheridan has been a household name when it comes to New Adult books. I have heard so many great things about her that it is just natural to read one of her works. And boy I was not disappointed. Now I know why Mia Sheridan is loved by many. Kyland has just solidified that. Kyland is not just a love story, it was so much more! It was about two people who tried to make ends meet despite the struggles they face day in and day out. It was about sacrifices and choosing the happiness of the other over yours. Kyland ripped my heart out, I think I have cried a week’s worth of tears over this book. I had to stop in between chapters since I literally can’t deal with all the pain I was feeling. To say this broke my heart into tiny million pieces would have been the understatement of the year. You can check my full review here. 

11. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

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This is now included in my favorite books of all time list! I swear Chuck Palahniuk is a genius for writing such ridiculously good novel. It was so twisted yet so profound at the same time. It is the kind of book that will have you pondering on life and the grandness of it all. It may be considered as something “too masculine” yet I am still enamored by how it was conjured, of how everything unfolded. That twist made my jaw drop! I have not watched the movie so I had zero idea of what’s to go down, and boy that was some serious stuff. It was so good I was left in awe. And while it may be short, it was definitely a book that packed a punch (haha pun intended). You can check my full review of the book here. 

12. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Should I even bother explain why this book made it to my list? This is a no-brainer. But let me state three reasons why I loved this book. First, it tackles something so profound, something larger than life. It was thought-provoking at best. Second, it wasn’t just a love story, it wasn’t just about two people falling helplessly in love with each other – it was unconventional, poignant yet still captivating. And lastly, it will rip your heart out, you’ll cry buckets, o boy yes you will, and as if your heart can’t take anymore beating it will happen all over again. It was the kind of cycle you’ll be willing to participate. And though there are some issues surrounding this book, I still think that it was well played out, it was written in a such a way that you would understand the choices that characters made. You can check my full review of the book here. 

13. Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

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Of course this blog entry wouldn’t be complete without this book. Finishing this book is an accomplishment! I think it is already an established fact that I am a huge fan of the TV Series, and because I wanted to understand it more, I have vowed to read all the books, and 2016 was the year I started. I may be taking a really long time to read all the books, but everything is worth it. It wasn’t called a hit for nothing, and I tell you the book is always better. George RR Martin’s writing prowess is quite like no other, how could such a man think of all these convoluted plot lines, only a genius could do that, and George RR Martin sure is one hell of a genius writer!

14. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 

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It was about damn time to read this book, and I did just that in 2016. I know I am late in the bandwagon, but still here I am. It is true that the word depressing doesn’t even begin to cover this book. It was a good take on the topic of depression. Esther’s character is relatable in more ways than one. You will feel her underneath your skin, it is as of you are the one experiencing everything that she has been going through. It was a perfect depiction of someone spiraling into the pits of depression, and while it is a sad read, it was also powerful and compelling. You can check my full review here.

15. The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

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The Pirate’s Wish is definitely a great conclusion to this duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke. You can check my full review of Assassin’s Curse here.. While Assassin’s Curse  didn’t quite live up to my expectation, as I had a lot of issues surrounding the characters and the character build up, The Pirate’s Wish definitely made up for it. In the second book, everything became coherent, there was also a huge improvement on the characters. I devoured the pages like it is nobody’s business. I highly enjoyed the world building. Cassandra Rose Clarke is definitely someone to watch out for. Can’t wait to read more of her works. You can check my full review of the book here. 

16. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

27362503Last but definitely not the least, It Ends With Us. This book!!! I know not all people loved this book. It was the kind of story that people will either hate so profoundly or love it with all their heart, I am part of the latter. This book is the Colleen Hoover I fell in love with. Colleen Hoover was bold and brave in writing this story. There is something commendable on how the book turned out. When it comes to Colleen Hoover books, always expect the worst, wait for the other shoe to drop – but even then, even when you thought you are prepared for all the emotional beating it will still be a shocking and ultimately heartbreaking revelation. This book needs to be read because this book encapsulated something so precious and powerful you have to share it to the world. Just be warned though, I believe this caters more to adult readers as it talks about sensitive topics. You can check my full review here. 

So there you have it guys! Thank you for sticking around this 2016 and tolerating my sometimes lack of creativity and my incessant fangirling. Here’s to hoping 2017 will be kinder to all of us and to hoping we could take down our TBRs! Haha happy new year and have a blessed year ahead!

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