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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Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay | ARC Review #PatronSaintsPH

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A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.

As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.

Publication Date: June 2019

Date Read: June 2019

Publisher: Kokila

No. of Pages: 318

Setting: Manila, Philippines

Genre: YA Contemporary

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A very timely and relevant book. It enscapsulated what Filipinos go through. A perfect book to showcase to the world what has been going on in our society – and a brave book at that.

First off would like to thank JM from BookFreakRevelations Book Worms Unite PH and Penguin Random House for making me a part of the Patron Saints PH Tour! It is an honor to be a part of this!

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Upon reading the blurb of this book for the first time, I knew then I had to read it. It is very brave for the author to come up with such a controversial book and I wanted to be a part of it by reading and reviewing it. Patron Saints of Nothing is not your typical feel good YA book, it is not your average dose of self-discovery and coming of age, this book is monumental. This book is the perfect depiction of the lives of the Filipinos from outside looking in. It was honest and gritty, it was relevant and timely. It was everything a good book and then some.

Relevant and very timely. 

Patron Saints of Nothing will take us to the nitty gritty details of Duterte’s war on drugs and how it was depicted in the media and what really lies beyond it. We are taken into Jay’s journey on finding out what happened to his cousin, Jun who was a victim of Duterte’s war on drugs and everything that happened in between it all. An own voices book that would transcend from pages to reality. It is with much joy to see it hit the international bookshelves and be read by many not only by Filipinos, in that alone I am beaming with pride.

Good sense of awakening whilst highlighting Filipino cultures taking the good ones with the bad.

Reading this book can be likened to watching a good Filipino Indie film, you get that sense of awakening that only good films/books can ever give. To my fellow Filipinos, think of On The Job and Buy Bust not as violent or as intense as those two films, but an ultimately softer and subtler version of it. I commend how this book presented the predicament and the status of the Philippine nation, that although we are known to be one of the happiest people we too have monsters we carry day in and day out. I love how things weren’t sugar-coated, how it was presented in both the good light and the bad one. How every country has its own flaws to deal with, how it isn’t perfect but ultimately human, vulnerable, fragile but resilient. This book also highlighted the stark contrast of how privileged Americans are as opposed to Filipinos or other race for that matter. It gave us a taste of what it is for Jay Reguero a Filipino-American to get to know his roots and be able to relate to it. I love how Jay’s character was equal parts curious and determined. His character for me wasn’t the most likable, honestly Jay frustrates me sometimes, but this was what made his character realistic. The book’s ability to give distinct characters was amazing in itself. We have Tito Maning, Jay’s father, Grace, Angel, Tita Ines, Tita Chato and Jun amongst all the others, characters that gave color on what it is like to be Filipinos. A true depiction, taken with everything else, the good and the bad.

Few inaccuracies and inconsistencies. 

There were few inaccuracies but maybe it is just me being critical since this is a book about my country and about my culture. All these didn’t affect the story, it was just something one can easily shrug off. But nearing towards the end, I just had a few issues with it. I don’t want to spoil the book, but let me give you a bit of a hint. I just didn’t like how the truth was presented to Jay. I am pretty sure that’s not how it works in Catholic teachings. I am not Catholic myself but I went to a Catholic school in high school and in college, thus I am very exposed to their teachings and ways. This specific instance how the truth was revealed to Jay didn’t sit well with me. I was a bit disappointed how it was played out. This was only the major issue I had, thus refraining me from giving it full five stars.

The message the book is trying to convey.

Patron Saints of Nothing gave us that sense of removing one’s self from the situation and see it in a bigger perspective or in another light. It made us ponder on the frailty of humans and how this doesn’t define what their fates should be or it shouldn’t define whether they are worthy or not. At the end of the day we always seek and believe in humanity and cry foul whenever this thin line had been crossed, and that’s what this book was trying to make us see, to see past the people’s moments of weakness and indecisions and rather value them much like everyone else. Goes without saying, I recommend this one.

 

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“That’s not how stories work, is it? They are shifting things that re-form with each new telling, transform with each new teller. Less solid, and more liquid taking the shape of its container.”
Randy Ribay, Patron Saints of Nothing

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Surprise surprise!!! Patron Saints of Nothing is having a book launch on June 23rd! Get the chance to meet the brilliant author behind this book!!!

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❝I expected the truth to iilluminate, to resurrect. Not to ruin.❞ – Patron Saints of Nothing, Randy Ribay ••• My full review on #PatronSaintsofNothing by #RandyRibay is now up on my blog! Link in bio ✨ ••• Patron Saints of Nothing could not have come at a perfect timing! It is relevant and timely. A book that talks about Philippines’ struggle on war on drugs and the extrajudicial killings surrounding it. The author is very brave in writing Jay and Jun’s story. This book may or may not have painted the Filipinos in a bad light, but it was what the book needed for the story to be told, and that’s what I like about it – it’s raw honesty to tell a story. I can’t wait for people to read it! . ••• A huge thank you to @bookfreakrevelations @bookwormsuniteph @penguinrandomhouse for making #PatrongSaintsPH tour possible! Andddd an exciting news! Randy Ribay will be having a book launch and signing on the 23rd! Now’s your chance to get a copy and have it signed! #RandyRibayinPH #BUPHxRandyRibay #Bookwormsuniteph

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang |Book Review

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

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

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

Date Published: May 07, 2019

Date Read: May 08, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Setting: San Francisco, California

No. of Pages: 320

Genre: Contemporary Romance

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

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

Asian Representation

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

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

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

Autism Spectrum

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

Sweet, Cute and oh so Sexy!

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

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

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

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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata | Book Review

 

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

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

Date Published: June 27, 2018

Publisher: Portobello Books

Date Read: March 2019

No. of Pages: 167

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Japanese Literature

Setting: Japan

Get your  copy here: Amazon | Book Depository

 

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Japanese counterpart of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Entertainment Weekly’s #1 Book of 2018 

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

The New York Times bestseller.

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

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

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

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

Date Published: July 10, 2018

Date Read: January 2019

Publisher: Penguin Press

No. of Pages: 368 pages

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Psycological Fiction

Setting: New York

Get Your Copy: Amazon | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

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

― Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang | Book Review

 

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A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

Date Published: June 5, 2018

Date Read: August 15, 2018

Publisher: Berkley

No. of Pages: 323

Setting: Palo Alto, California

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Source: Copy provided by the publisher

Get Your Copy here: Amazon | Book Depository

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One of my favorite books of 2018!!!

I broke yet another rule I have set for myself – that is not to join in with the hype. You see hype highly affects the reading experience for me, and I wanted to enjoy it with the least influence as possible. But damn, the hype surrounding The Kiss Quotient is so real I’m so happy I jumped right in. I am afraid there’s no getting over it anytime in the foreseeable future. I’m even too scared this book will put me in the biggest slump, but know what? I’m fine with it. I’ll use that time to savor every moment, go back to the pages I have tabbed, and boy I have tabbed so many, it’s almost the whole book. A reread is definitely in order. And when I’m through with that, I’ll proceed to googling Daniel Henney our Michael Larsen and dream about him too. I LOVE THE BOOK SO MUCH, IT IS ALMOST AN OBSESSION.

Steamy, oh boy, why does it feel so suddenly hot in here?

The Kiss Quotient is more than what meets the eye. And boy I didn’t expect it to be too steamy! Too steamy, I literally felt I needed air whilst I am inside a fully air-conditioned room. The steamy scenes were perfectly and vividly written that you can very well feel the temperature go up. That’s some serious talent there, and not everyone can do just that. And don’t get me wrong, it is not just these steamy scenes that sold me. It was so, so much more, it was also sweet and tender, and ahhhh all the good stuff. It was not smut, it was adorable and fun! The hot and steamy scenes were played just right.

Asian Representation

Let’s admit it guys, asian representation is still something the publishing world needs to work on. So much so that an asian like me is too delighted to see an asian character portrayed well in a book, this shouldn’t be something we should get excited about. It should be a normal thing — to see asian everywhere and not just some fancy thing that happens once in a blue moon if we are lucky. Right representation truly matters and The Kiss Quotient was able to let us in on a fraction of Vietnamese culture, which is not far too different from other culture in Asia. Asians are big on family, we put too much value on our family so much so that we will do almost anything for them. This was portrayed in this book, and it was an amazing depiction. Michael Larsen, our male protagonist is half Vietnamese, and the way he made sacrifices for his family especially his mother was truly remarkable. True signature of Asians, if you ask me.

Autism and Own Voices

Another topic that needs more attention and more representation is Autism. The Kiss Quotient gave us a glimpse of what it is to have autism and how one manages her day to day life with it. I specifically commend this book since it was written by an author who is diagnosed with autism. I am drawn to own voices books, there is authenticity and rawness you couldn’t find anywhere. And that is the case here, the author was able to provide us with a character with depth and realness about her that is hard to miss. Stella is a very smart and successful woman who had struggles when it comes to socializing which leads to having troubles having a romantic relationship with someone. She’s being pressured to have a boyfriend and eventually settle down, but all these seemed to be a challenge for her, and so she hired a male escort – which was Michael, this half-Vietnamese, half Swedish mighty specimen of a man, And the story took off into this steamy, swoon-worthy and all things amazing reading experience. Their first encounter? I was seriously contemplating to take a half day and go home and just read the day away, (yeah I was reading at the office, rebel). Don’t you just love when that happens? The book is so good you just don’t want to participate in life even if it is something that pays the bills! Hahaha

Many may not be aware of the Netflix series Atypical, the lead character has autism as well. This is why I was able to understand Stella in this book. Also the reason why I enjoyed it so much more than what I had anticipated. There are actions that may put someone off, but it is what the book required, it is what it is, and I had no problems with how Stella was portrayed. To me it was just spot on and amazing, again the authenticity is really palpable. And might I add, I love how Michael didn’t even bat an eye when he knew that Stella has autism, because he understood, he has this level of maturity that men seemed to lack these days (haha), he was patient and just the most logical person there was. He understood Stella in a way two people in love can.

This is how romance should be done!

The Kiss Quotient is definitely one of my favorite books of 2018. It was everything I needed and everything I truly enjoyed. It was yes, predictable, because duh this isn’t a thriller, but the best part of the reading experience is how everything leads to that ending. The story chapter per chapter, the build up and all those sweet moments between Stella and Michael. It has been a month since I last read the book and I’m still thinking about it up to now. I can see myself rereading it whenever I need some pick me upper or when life has been unbearably stressful. Helen Hoang instantly became a favorite author, I vow to read all her books until kingdom come! So this goes without saying, this book i worth your time, go ahead and pick it up!

 

 

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“Love, he found, was a jail. It trapped, and it clipped wings. It dragged you down, forced you to places you didn’t want to go”
― Helen HoangThe Kiss Quotient

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Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish. Helen is represented by Kim Lionetti of BookEnds Literary Agency.

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{Thank you @berkleypub for this free book.} . THE KISS QUOTIENT by HELEN HOANG . Synopsis: A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick. Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position… Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic ••• Oh my freak yes!!! I have been eyeing this book for a while now since almost everyone I trust for book recommendations has been raving about this book. It’s is all over my bookstagram and twitter feed, not to mention the great reviews it has been getting over at goodreads. This may be too hyped up, but I can already feel it in my bones I will totally love this one! Thank you so much Berkley for sending me a copy!!! You guys are amazing! 💙💙💙 ••• #TheKissQuotient #HelenHoang #BerkleyPublishing #BerkleyBookstagram #partner

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