Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan | Book Review

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Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut opens with a murder and shines a spotlight onto life in fictional small-town Japan.

Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister Keiko’s sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate town years ago.

But Ren soon finds himself picking up where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a local cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s catatonic wife.

As he comes to know the figures in Akakawa, from the enigmatic politician to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, Ren delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed, trying to piece together what happened the night of her death. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren struggles to find solace in the void his sister has left behind.

Publisher: Soho Press

Publication Date: March 06, 2018

Setting: Akakawa, Japan

Genre: Mystery, Fiction

Date Read: April 10, 2018

No. of Pages: 323 Pages

Format: Hard Cover

Source: Book of The Month

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It’s the “if you love (insert book here) you will definitely enjoy this” that pushed me into reading this book. A good motivation, really, since I am struggling to finish a book these past few months. And would just look at that gorgeous cover!

The book opened with Keiko Ishida’s murder, our protagonist’s older sister. Now Ren Ishida needs to go to a small town in Japan – Akakawa to learn what happened to his sister that fateful night. A promising premise, if you ask me, but unfortunately the book wasn’t able to sustain the thrill it promised.

Comparison to a Haruki Murakami novel

I was told that if I love Haruki Murakami’s books, then I would definitely enjoy this one. To be compared to a Murakami novel is a big shoes to fill, it sets a high expectation and either it would exceed the expectation or fall behind it. The case here is the latter. While it is true that the book is somehow reminiscent to that of a Murakami novel, there are however striking differences. Both have that subtle, silent, calm quality to it – qualities that would put you at a certain mood and qualities that if you don’t pay too much attention would be lost in you. However Rainbirds felt like it wanted to tell different side stories but the connection or coherence of it all did not meld well, it was a bit forced, to say the least.

Japan in the 90s

I love that the book was set in Japan in the 90s, it added to the mystery of the whole book. It may have been one of its strong suit. The way the author described certain places transports its readers and made them feel as if they were there too. I don’t know if it’s just me or books set in Japan has this melancholic feel to it that I can not pinpoint exactly, all I know is it adds beauty to the book.

 

Great premise, mediocre execution

The premise of the book is what would capture its audience. With an unsolved murder opening the book, it is but natural to draw readers in. The never-ending quest to know who did it will always be something readers crave, I myself included. However I find the execution of the whole novel a bit mediocre, again blame this on the expectation set too high. The loose ends were not as polished as I hoped it to be. The bridge linking the events and the domino effect it tried to provide were not solid enough to make the book more put-together. There were moments when I hardly see the relevance of one event to another. The few chapters toward the end felt a little bit rushed. It felt like everything is crammed up inside a suitcase, all wrinkly and in disarray. Maybe if the book was a little longer, it could have tied all the loose ends better. There were awkward parts as well, for an instance this particular scene warrants a certain reaction, but the characters in it did something cringe-y or something unconventional in the normal course of things – this happened a lot, and was a major turn off for me.

Characters and their likability

Ren Ishida – our main character is just your average guy – young, good looking and intelligent. Easy to like right? However as the story progresses, the book showed a side of  Ren that isn’t likeable. What is it with Ren and all these women? This is something the book can definitely do away with, it did not add anything to the story, if for anything it was a little annoying. Ren isn’t a spectacular character, he was plain and a little boring to be completely honest, his character could have been portrayed well, there are so many things the author could have done to make the main character cut above the rest, but no, it had to be this boring guy who for inexplicable reasons seems to draw the attention of too many women. Then we have Seven Stars or Rio who was portrayed as a rebellious teenager with issues of her own. Another character with great potential that the author failed to maximize. Her connection to the whole story is yet another forced one. Keiko Ishida, was the only one consistent in this story, this is through the recollection of her brother Ren, her character is what I expected it to be, the only character I liked to be completely honest. Other characters such as Ren’s neighbor, Izumi the building manager,  Mr. and Mrs. Katou, Pigtails, Mrs. Katsuragi, Honda, Anzu, Jin, and all others are characters that was supposed to contribute to the story but all fell short and I keep missing their relevance to it all. Again, great characters that the author wasn’t able to fully utilize.

On the fence

I don’t hate the book, but I don’t love it either. And it is such a sad situation where I can’t actually categorize it. Was it a bad book? No it was not, it had great potential just not executed well. Despite the issues I had with this book, I definitely would want to see the author grow and watch out what she will be able to come up with her next books.

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Sadness alone can’t harm anyone. It’s what you do when you’re sad that can hurt you and those around you.
– Clarissa Goenawan

❝Sadness alone can’t harm anyone. It’s what you do when you’re sad that can hurt you and those around you.❞ – Clarissa Goenawan ••• Finished Rainbirds last night…and it wasn’t what I had expected. I was told if I love Haruki Murakami then I would love this one – that set a big expectation. To be compared to a Murakami novel is quite a big shoes to fill, and it’s either you exceed the expectation or fall behind it. The case here is the latter. I don’t hate the book but I don’t love it either. I am on the fence with this one. There are yes a few resemblance, but it is also quite different, if that even makes sense. I’d stop with the comparison, and focus on the story. It opens with Keiko Ishida’s murder, our protagonist’s sister. It held a lot of promise by this premise alone, but towards the end it just didn’t sustain the thrill of finding out what really happened. It feels like the book wants to tell so many different stories but the connection to it all seemed a bit forced? And the revelation of what really happened and all the secrets surrounding it was a little lackluster. But I do love that it is set in Japan in the 90s, the description of the place is enough to satisfy the reader’s curiosity, it just provides what the story needed. . Rating: 3/5⭐️ . Despite the issues I had with this book, I definitely would want to see the author grow and see what she will be able to come up with her next books. . ••• Full review now posted on my blog! Link in bio 💕🧡 . . . . #Rainbirds #clarissagoenawan #BookOfTheMonth #botm #mybookmark #renishida

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The French Girl by Lexie Elliott | ARC Review

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They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway–until they met Severine, the girl next door.

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group’s loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive, and there are some people you can’t forget, like Severine, who was never seen again.

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free.

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Date Read: January 13, 2018

Publisher: Berkley Books

Setting: France / London

No. of Pages: 294

Source of Copy: Provided by Berkley in exchange of an honest review.

Get your copy here: Amazon | Book Depository

 

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Beautiful writing style. The French Girl is not what I had expected.

The French Girl is about six friends who went on a vacation in France where they met Severine – the girl next door. 10 years later they are implicated as suspects in the murder of this French woman. This definitely sounded like a great premise. The constant guessing of who did the killing is always a pleasure to read, how everything unraveled revealing dark secrets one after another is always a huge treat for me. So you have to understand my anticipation whilst reading this book. Let’s just say The French Girl isn’t what I had expected.

The pacing was a little slow for my own liking, considering this is a mystery thriller. I wasn’t able to feel the usual the-edge-of-my-seat feeling I often experience reading thriller books. There are definitely some parts the book can do away with. Albeit slow, the book was able to show in detail the lives of the characters, their relation to each other, their past and what one meant to another. The book lets you in the ins and outs of the lives of the characters. How they act the way they do and the underlying history that brought them all together, and even when you think you got them all figured out, there will always be something that would surprise you. The French Girl is character-driven than plot-driven. I commend how the author made each character distinct from one another, drawing the lines from their traits and what makes them tick. It focused more on the dynamics between the characters, and while I do appreciate that, I wish the plot wasn’t sacrificed. The plot was a little lack-luster for lack of a better word. The story was a little monotonous and wasn’t as convincing as I hope it would be. I was waiting for intensity, for that heart-racing moment when everything was finally revealed, but I got nothing. My thirst for gasp-inducing plot twist was, sadly, not quenched.

Also, they could have titled it in a more catchy  way. If I come across this book in the bookstore, to be quite honest, I would not even give a second glance. There is something cliche about it already, which doesn’t give any impact as opposed to 4-5 years ago. What I commend though is the existence or non-existence, however way you want to put it, of Severine. It was cleverly incorporated in the scenes, which adds mystery to everything and makes you question the relationship or involvement of our main character, Kate Channing, to her murder. Also the end part, where Severine had somewhat an intervention to what happened to Kate, I love that part.

All in all, if you are a patient reader, and you want a character-driven book than a plot-driven one, then this is definitely for you.

 

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Once ensconced in a black taxi, the unease becomes corporeal, taking on the body of twisting snakes that are no longer confined to my stomach now they’re swaying upward, encircling my lungs, slithering through my throat, threatening to choke me of words and breath.

– Lexie Elliott, The French Girl

phonto

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.

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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

phonto

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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Penny In London by Fisher Amelie: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: You know how everyone says when one door closes another one opens? At the time, you find this statement obnoxious as all get out because a) you don’t really know what the future holds, it certainly hasn’t been a cakewalk so far, and b) the thought of change is unbearable. You feel like your life is falling apart and everyone around is feeding you clichés like they’re made out of kale or quinoa or whatever the trend health food is right now. You don’t want kale clichés, you want double-chocolate fudge realisms, and you want them now. You just want things the way they were, but then something happens, a moment, an instant that sets you out on a path toward happiness you never knew could exist, and suddenly you think, huh, I don’t think I want double-chocolate fudge anymore. I think I’m in the mood for this heaping serving of strawberry cheesecake sitting in front of me…with a side of kale. And a pair of split pants, but we won’t get into that right now.

Graham Glenn may have tossed her in, but Oliver Finn made her feel again.

Date Published: July 23, 2016

Publisher: Self-published

Date Read: October 10, 2016

No. of Pages: 244

Source: Author provided me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Setting: London

 

Review

The first book I have read by Fisher Amelie was Callum and Harper which instantly became an all time favorite, I fell in love with the characters and the story. And so I was beyond ecstatic to start yet another book by her – Penny In London. I have been in a Fisher Amelie drought for the longest time and now it finally rained.

Penny in London  will take us to Penny’s journey on losing love, finding it again and everything else in between. There are moments that made me laugh out loud and there are moments that my chest felt so heavy for suppressing my tears because I was reading in public and I wouldn’t want them to think I’m on the verge of a meltdown. So yeah, to say this book brought out different emotions would be an understatement. Fisher Amelie’s brilliance is still apparent in this book, it was an easy yet delightful read. Maybe the only issue I had was, I wish it was longer, I wish there were parts that should have been expounded more so as to bring forth the impact it was trying to effect on its readers. There was something that I was looking for, nonetheless, it was good – it captured my attention and finished it in a day, which doesn’t happen often *insert adult life here and all the responsibilities I’m trying to run away from, haha!*.

Penny’s character is relatable in more ways than one. There is this sense of feeling that you couldn’t help but feel for her, happens to the best of us, I suppose. I loved how she developed into an independent woman after what happened with Graham. Oliver’s character, on the other hand, was a little hard for me to comprehend. I was trying to dissect his whole persona to come up with a spot-on conclusion on his character but came up short. His character was a little inconsistent, there are traits that contradict one another and I was finding it hard to reconcile them. The depth of his despair and how he handled situations  were also a little lacking for me. Again, maybe I was looking for something more.

The story was divided into stages of grief, which served as a good mood-setter (if that is a thing), it somehow gives you the overview or at least what to expect from that chapter. And can you guys give me a pat on the back for knowing about the plot twist from the very beginning? I swear I was pumping my hands through the air whilst saying “I so knew it!”. Don’t get me wrong the book wasn’t predictable, I don’t know, but I just had that deep feeling that that was the big plot twist of the book. And I was so happy to know I have been right all along. *insert smug face, haha kidding*. So yes, despite the fact that this is a fun and easy read, there is that big twist that you have to watch out for, come back to me if you saw it coming too, or if you didn’t, that’s also amazing! I love me some books with unexpected twists. This book is wholesome and decent, something that is hard to find these days, it focused on the story rather than the steamy parts, us romance readers, know all too well. I love that it didn’t try hard to include unnecessary steamy situations just so it could sell. It was just right as it is.

And yep I had that biggest smile at the ending. It was so cute and heartwarming. I wish there were more pages so I could relish it for much longer. So go ahead, treat yourself with a light and funny read and pick this book up! You’re welcome.

 

Rating: rating_4stars

 

I don’t believe in regrets, not really. I mean, in the heat of a moment I may strongly wish I hadn’t done something but to be honest, I believe all our decisions help mold us into the persons we’re supposed to become. Think about it, if everyone made flawless decisions, how could any of us truly understand life, and all it’s accompanying beauties? If we never suffer, how can we recognize joy for what it is? If we never witness another’s struggles, how can we submit ourselves to helping them? No regrets help shape us into selfless people. After all, the only regrets people really speak of are surrounded by a hesitation to love or allow love.

Penny In London by Fisher Amelie

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The Vegetarian by Han Kang: Book Review

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Synopsis: Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.

A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

Publisher: Hogarth

Date Published: February 2nd 2016

Date Read: July 2016

Number of Pages: 192

Source: Won from a YouTube giveaway.

 

REVIEW

This 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. 

It will leave you with inexplicable feeling that you just couldn’t
easily shake off. It is true what they say, after you read it, there
will be times that it will linger in your head like some mistake in
the past you probably regret doing or some cringe-worthy conversation you had.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not painting it in a bad light. What I’m
saying is this book is disturbing and weird but in the good kind. I can’t
put a proper name to what I exactly felt after reading it but it is
somehow proportionate to feeling of having your brains wrap around
something you can barely fathom. It was like there was this
otherwordly element to it that you just could not easily forget.

This book gave off the Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami vibe to it.
So for fans of Haruki Murakami, I think you will enjoy the works of
Han Kang. There was this certain uniqueness and a hint of something
scandalous that made it all jive into this perfect masterpiece. The
contrast of pensive sadness and the unspeakable abomination masked by
subtleties is what makes this book a cut above the rest. It is
definitely a different reading experience. It is odd as it is
interesting. There was this sense of unease yet there was also a feeling of odd satisfaction, there was no way around it, it was what it was. Shocking to the conscience and somewhat understandable at the same time. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The book was divided into three parts, with different point of views. Each part was distinct from each other yet they all mixed together perfectly to tell a brilliant story. I loved how the author made flawed characters, how they go about with their lives and how their flaws contributed to the whole story. How they invite you unto their minds and made you see it through their perspective, how they invite you and you stayed longer than you have expected. This 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.

There is something about stories about twisted or unconventional marriages that appeal to me so much, and The Vegetarian took the cake. It took twisted and unconventional into a higher level, one I could not fully wrap my head around. There was this feeling that I wanted to read so much more and then a part of me felt satisfied how it ended. It was a mixed emotion at best. I may not have given it full five stars, but I definitely enjoyed it, and added Han Kang to my favorite authors, she writes so beautifully. You will not miss her play on words, how they seemed so simple yet brings so much impact. I know this book isn’t for everyone, some would love it some will hate it, but it is in the beauty of how one would perceive it, how much one could take and be able to grasp the message it was trying to send. This book took another angle on mental illness and painted it in the best light possible, odd but very relevant.

This is the first book that I have read that was translated to english from the original korean, and it did not disappoint. This made me feel that I am missing out on a lot of things and from now on I vow myself to read more of it.

Rating: rating_4stars

“Her life was no more than a ghostly pageant of exhausted endurance, no more real than a television drama. Death, who now stood by her side, was as familiar to her as a family member, missing for a long time but now returned.”
― Han KangThe Vegetarian