My 2015 in Books

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My 2015bestnine on Instagram 🙂

 

Same time last year, I made a 2015 Bookish New Year Resolution, and now I am reviewing 2015 if I was able to stick with these resolutions.

Discover New Authors: Yes! I was able to discover new authors, by new I mean an author I have not read anything by even if their works were really popular, and fell in love with their works! It was always nice to read a book from an author you know nothing about. My favorite new authors for 2015 are:

  • Anna Quindlen – my best friend mentioned this author to me as she wanted to read Still Life and Breadcrumbs, if I am not mistaken. I saw a copy of her book A Short Guide to A Happy Life and loved it! What a positive woman she is!
  • C.P Cavafy – ahhhh! He is a now a favorite poet!! I lovedddd his poems! So achingly beautiful.
  • David Sedaris – oh my goodness this guy is soooo funny, I couldn’t contain my giggles when I was reading Me Talk Pretty One Day
  • Sarah Kay – I think I am a little obsessed, I love all her poems, she’s my person! Haha
  • Renee Ahdieh – oh wow I really enjoyed The Wrath and The Dawn, probably one of my favorite reads of 2015. So yes, I want to read more from this author!
  • Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner they write so well they made me a Scifi Convert! Haha

Read More from a Genre I have not explored:  I fell a little short with my promise here, I said I would read more historical fiction, SciFi and more nonfiction. I’ve not read much from this genres, so I am carrying this over to 2016. But hey I guess I made a little progress here, I’ve read more non-fiction this year, my favorites were Im Special and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves to get Through our Twenties by Ryan O’Connell and Candy Darling: Memoir of An Andy Warhol Superstar. I failed to read any historical fiction, yeah I know such a bummer, but I was able to read one SciFi which was These Broken Stars.

Less YA: I always find myself drawn to YA, I could not resist it. I think I have read a lot of YA for 2015. I need to lessen that on 2016, but not completely stop reading them. Why? They are all feel good and easy read. I wouldn’t want to completely stop myself from reading them.

Read More Classic:  Do Little Black Classics from Penguin count? If yes! Then I was able to stick with this resolution haha! My favorite penguin classic would be Remember Body by CP Cavafy

Read More Poetry: Oh yeah! I was slaying this one! I’ve read a LOT of poetry books this 2015! Great poetry year for me, I must say! Faves: No Matter The Wreckage, Remember Body, The Year of What Now, Ugly People Beautiful Hearts, Memories and Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair.

Less Book Buying even Lesser TBR: Did I really write this? I don’t remember. What is this?

Buy The Ones I really Like Well I did say Booksale and Warehouse Sale are exceptions, so I was still able to stick with this one! Ha! I am a terrible person haha

Take More Beautiful Bookish Photos: Hahaha! I wrote this as a resolution? How shallow could I get? Haha! But hey I could see the “improvement” on my photos. So… hahaha

Read More Underrated Books: Uhm, nope, was not able to fully grasp this one. but hey I really tried.

So those were my resolutions last year. I’d say I did a pretty decent job, all things considered. I hope 2016 will be a better reading year for me and for you guys too!

I picture myself reading more Adult fiction next year. I really wanted to branch out, be diverse as possible, I know I have been saying this before, but hopefully this time I could really really stick to it.

And oh I am also unhauling some books too, I might do a giveaway here and there, so watch out for that.

How was your 2015? Did you “improve” as a reader, I know I have! 🙂

 

 

 

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Ugly People Beautiful Hearts by Marlen Komar: Book Review

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Synopsis: Ugly People Beautiful Hearts is a poetry book with over 70 poems that explores loneliness, quiet sadness, bursts of happiness, and contentment over the fact that everything you have, will eventually go okay. But that’s sort of beautiful in its own right.

It has verses moving between the feelings of loving someone, feeling loss, trusting the night sky, losing your light, resolving that hurt is beautiful, and finding compassion in a stranger’s smile.

Date Published: March 13, 2015

Publisher: Self-Published

No. of Pages: 96 pages

Date Read: May 16, 2015

Source: Provided by the Author. 🙂

REVIEW:

Achingly beautiful.

Wow. Just wow. Let me find the perfect words to describe this poetry book. It was just amazing, spot-on, raw and real. I have found a favorite. This poetry book is easily on my top list of poetry books. It was just, ugh! I cannot give justice to how good it was. And I can’t thank Marlen herself for giving me a copy of her incredible book. I definitely see myself rereading the whole thing over and over. The book was able to paint, heartbreaks, courage, the beauty of life, the silver lining in every sadness, so vividly and so accurate you can easily put yourself inside it. That every hurt and pain is universal, that there is beauty in pain and there is always hope. If you enjoyed Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan and the works of Lang Leav and Sarah Kay you will surely love this book. I cannot recommend it enough!

It is not so often that I review poetry books, I wouldn’t want to ruin the beauty of it and yes my words may not give it the justice it deserves, but this poetry book is just so beautiful that I could not pass the opportunity to be able to tell the world about it. I loved how it was written with overflowing emotions that you could not help but nod your head. What is more amazing about this poetry book is that, it is like telling your own story but through the words of another, but the emotions, the realizations, the subtle hints, the epiphany, the realness of it all are all there, poking your heart making you feel everything all over again.

I think I tabbed 80% of the book, and it is so hard to choose my favorite piece. But here it is.

Chance Meeting Over Coffee

And I have this one coffee shop I go to, a couple of blocks from my apartment. The lights inside are as warm as the din of chatter from people bent over chapter books, quietly trading papers as they murmur about future Sundays. Coats hug the backs of chairs and a few mittens lay discarded under tables, hopefully not forgotten. But I, I always keep my coat on.

I hold my cup with both hands, watching the dust dance in the rays of light breaking onto my table. I look up and you approach me, as I thought you would, eventually.

“I think we’ve met before.” “I think you’re right.”

“You always put my coffee mugs back on the wrong shelf, if I remember right.”

“And stain the rims with berry reds from my lips.”

“That part I didn’t mind all that much.”

I smiled.

“I think one time I fell asleep on your shoulder, with my feet over yours on the coffee table.”

‘You were wearing my wool socks.”

“You might be right.” I shifted in my chair, trying to fight the urge to look out the window. “I think I used to sit on windowsills, keeping the afternoon company; eating strawberries and thinking of you.” I crossed my feet at the ankles, looked up at you. “That probably sounds silly.”

“I’m not sure why,” you said slowly, weighing your words, “but for whatever reason I think I remember how your eyes looked at one o’clock, when the night was not yet ready for morning to come.”

“That’s a peculiar thing to say.”

“Yea you’re right.” You paused. Then continued.

“Were you the one that used to use hardcover books as coasters? And put rosemary in vases like flowers?” You smiled, trying to place the girl. “Wait, was it you that danced with me in the kitchen? To the sound of the dishwasher running and the color draining from the sky?”

“It might have been. Maybe?”

“Maybe.”

“Well…”

“Well. I should be going then. Maybe sometime later we’ll see each other again. Things might be different. I’m sure it’ll come to me how I know you.”

“You know how these things are.”
You waved goodbye with your paper, and I watched your back leave the shop. Funny, how some strangers were once apart of your life.

Rating: 5 stars

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: Book Review

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Synopsis: The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!
 
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Includes a PDF Help Line Resource Guide and a Note Read by the Author.

Publication Date: January 6, 2015

No. Of Pages: 378

Publisher: Knopf

Date Read: March 15, 2015

Source: Got my copy from National Book Store

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It was heart-wrenching and beautiful in all the right places.

I had to let this one out: Why are YA novels these days have to have the tag line The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park? As a reader what captures my attention is a beautiful blurb, not a tagline such as this, I swear this is the nth book with a tagline like it. What I’m saying is, after reading All the Bright Places, I think the tagline has become irrelevant, I loved it on its own, it doesn’t need an advertisement, because it was beautiful by itself. I wish publishers would just stop doing it, seriously, let the book do the talking, let the book surprise you on how good it was. For someone who have read both The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park, to be honest I hardly saw the similarity. The three books tackled different stories and different predicaments. Yes, it was about young adults and their ever changing quest for what was real and the importance of being in the moment, but the books had different takes on adolescent life. So yes, for me, I just wanted to stop all these taglines.

Okayyy… now on to this beautiful, tear-inducing, perspective-changing, life-altering book. This book, oh my goodness this book, it hurt me more than I can allow it to. It was just right there subtly stabbing my fragile heart until it was too late and all the pain just swooped me in this abyss of immense sadness. I was so good at avoiding spoilers, so going to this book blindly was the best decision I’ve made. To be honest I didn’t pay much attention to the blurb, all I know was it was a sad book and a beautiful book, so I took the plunge and let it take me away, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was already in the middle of it all when I had this gnawing feeling in my chest, like something quite not right, something was off, and I couldn’t for the life of me shake off the terrible feeling. It’s like you know shit is going to get real but you don’t know when and how so you are left with this inexplicable uneasiness. I was too afraid to continue reading, really, maybe the fact that I am personally undergoing some huge stuff contributed to the anxiety I have for the book, but I continued on like a brave soldier.

And this book didn’t disappoint. It was a gem. It will truly stay with me forever, there’s not an iota of doubt about it. I loved how the book threw in some trivia in the mix and oh my goodness of course reference to Virginia Woolf! It was well written. The characters were distinct from one another. This book made me want to fly to Indiana and go to all those places. This book will suck you in and spit out a different you, it will change your point of view in life and will teach you how to fully live in the moment, how to take risks and how to step out of the box you made for yourself. I can see myself rereading this one, and possibly passing it on to my kids someday, so they know that life will not treat them well, but there is always beauty in the ugly places.

Here’s another thing about this book, I can count in one hand the times I read through the acknowledgments part a book, but I wanted to know what brought life into this amazing book, so I read the acknowledgment and everything made more sense. I have found a whole new level of respect and admiration to the author for writing something that is very close to her heart, something so sensitive and scary, that’s why I gave this book five stars and listed it as a favorite. It was not just a fiction, it was a fragment of someone else’s life, it was a part of a person who went through the same excruciating thing and for a moment it was reality.

I could say I knew it was coming, that ending was inevitable, but this doesn’t change the fact that it was still able to draw out raw emotions from me. I sobbed, I can’t fully say I know the feeling or I could fully relate to it, but at some point I did, at some point it was also relevant to what I went through and that’s the beauty of this book, it was specific yet all encompassing. Well, after all, pain and love is and will always will be universal.

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“You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”

phonto

What I love About Poetry

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Don’t you just love it when you read poetry books and you get the notion that you are never going to be done with it? That each time you open that book, there is always a new emotion that would spring related to the circumstances you have now, but didn’t have the first time you read it. That poems will always be timely and relevant? That’s what I love about poetry, it is infinite.

I’m Special and other lies we tell ourselves to get through our twenties by Ryan O’Connell: Book Review

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Synopsis: This hilarious part-memoir, part-manifesto reveals what sets apart the latest generation of young people coming of age in an all-wired, overeducated, and underemployed world.

People are obsessed with Ryan O’Connell’s blogs. With tens of thousands reading his pieces on Thought Catalog and Vice,watching his videos on YouTube, and hanging on to each and every #dark tweet, Ryan has established himself as a unique young voice who’s not afraid to dole out some real talk. He’s that candid, snarky friend you consult when you fear you’re spending too much time falling down virtual k-holes stalking your ex on Facebook or when you’ve made the all-too-common mistake of befriending a psycho while wasted at last night’s party and need to find a way to get rid of them the next morning. But Ryan didn’t always have the answers to these modern day dilemmas. Growing up gay and disabled with cerebral palsy, he constantly felt like he was one step behind everybody else. Then the rude curveball known as your twenties happened and things got even more confusing.

Ryan spent years as a Millennial cliché: he had dead-end internships; dabbled in unemployment; worked in his pajamas as a blogger; communicated mostly via text; looked for love online; spent hundreds on “necessary” items, like candles, while claiming to have no money; and even descended into aimless pill-popping. But through extensive trial and error, Ryan eventually figured out how to take his life from bleak to chic and began limping towards adulthood.

Sharp and entertaining, I’m Special will educate twentysomethings (or other adolescents-at-heart) on what NOT to do if they ever want to become happy fully functioning grown ups with a 401k and a dog.

Date of Publication: June 2, 2015

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Date Read: February 25, 2015

No. of Pages: 208

Source: Net Galley.

Review:

Truer words were never spoken.

I got a copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. All I can say is: truer words were never spoken. Ryan O’Connell was able to present the life of twentysomethings in this wild, messy, complicated roller-coaster ride, and I couldn’t help but agree on the majority of the book. Being a twentysomething myself, I, too, have been to toxic friendships, unrequited love down to ugly relationships, and to read something like this serves as an affirmation that despite the shitty hands that we were dealt with, we can bounce back, it is just a matter of discipline and our eagerness to make a difference out of our chaotic lives. Yes, that classmate in high school who constantly posts happy photos from a vacation spent with dear friends in some exclusive island is probably as lost and as unsure of her life as you are, that college friend who posted a picture of her bright shiny red car is probably living on crackers to tide her for the week – this book made me realize that twentysomethings, including myself, loved to live in a big facade. Constantly itching to show the world only the nice things that are happening to their pathetic lives. Being a twentysomething is like being in a Britney Spears’ song Not a girl, not yet a woman. The transition is scary and more often than not, we like to stay at the shore than swim against the waves, but once we’ve kissed the ocean we are so desperate to stay afloat that we forget to breathe for a while, to enjoy how the sun kissed your skin, we forget the simple things. This wonderful made me realize that there are far more important things in life than trying to please everyone, that people will perpetually fail you in ways you cannot imagine, that at the end of a tiring day all you truly have is yourself. This book can be the bible of twentysomethings, and I am really glad I read it! Kudos to the author for writing such an incredible book!

Rating: 5 stars

“I don’t regret anything. And neither should you. You should remember all of it. You should remember all the time you wasted in your bed, or someone else’s bed or at some bar where you overheard the same drippy conversations. You should remember how thin you once were despite subsisting on beer and pizza. You should remember all the people you tried to love all the people who tried to love you. All the awful overpriced apartments, all the toxic friendships, and all the money you spent on things you can no longer recall. Then I want you to remember the moment you developed a keen understanding of what works for you and what doesn’t. I want you to remember being comfortable in your own skin and not feeling like you have to apologize for every little thing, I want you to remember the first time you decided not to put the entirety of your self worth in someone’s careless hands. Because moments like those are the most valuable – instances in which you felt yourself no longer becoming the person you want to but already being it. That’s pretty fucking special.”

Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho: Book Review

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Synopsis: What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Their journey will take them from the rooftops, keg parties, and all-ages shows of their North Carolina hometown to the pool halls, punk houses, and hospitals of New York City before they once more stand together and face their chances. Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s, Cristina Moracho’s whip-smart debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and why bad decisions sometimes feel so good

Date Published: October 19, 2014

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

No. of pages: 364

Date Read: February 23, 2015

Source: A gift from a dear friend

Review:

This book is anything but typical.

Do not expect the mushy cheesy type. Do not expect swooning and gushing. Do not expect for the typical love story. Expect what real raw love is. Expect the unconventional affection. Expect that reality isn’t always as beautiful as you hoped it to be, that reality is reality and most often than not, it is ugly.

From the moment I read the synopsis, about two best friends, one wanting more than friendship and is set in mid 90’s with mix tapes and whatnot – I was practically sold! I wanted to read the book, I wanted it so bad. Plus the blurb that said “Althea can’t stop falling in love, Oliver can’t stop falling asleep.” kind of drew me in. This kind of story was what my heart was aching for when I read the synopsis. I just knew there’s no way I am going to pass this one up.

I started reading it the 1st of February and it took me 23 freaking days to finish it. I’m not usually like this, but this book was painfully slow. There are parts that just dragged on and on and still the story was never close to resolution. There are parts that weren’t necessary at all, the novel could definitely do without it. It was well-written, however the writing style was, kind of hard to get into, there are parts that I had a hard time understanding who was actually being referred to. Take this for an instance, in a paragraph two characters were involved, let’s say Valerie and Althea, then the author would use the pronoun she and I was left rereading the whole paragraph as to who that she was referring to. And this didn’t happen once, it happened pretty often, I will be left thinking if I kind of lost my comprehending skills along the way – or maybe the fact that the story didn’t grip me in ways I expected it to can be considered a factor as to why I had a hard time reading it. Also the book did not really highlight the 90s you can actually mistake it to be set today – it was a let down, really.

Althea and Oliver were not your average teenagers, Oliver had this very odd illness and just wanted for things to go back to normal and Althea was this rebellious girl, who constantly craves for Oliver’s attention. Yes, it was as complex as its sounds. I loved Althea’s boldness and stubbornness, just as much as I hated Oliver’s selfishness. The story weaved through this complicated mess of unrequited love. I would like to commend the author’s attempt on veering away from what the majority of people would want to see in a book, The novel offered a new flavor to YA, and I truly admire the author for it. This is a good coming-of-age story. however, as much as I want to force myself into loving it, this book isn’t for me.

Will I be reading more of Cristina Moracho’s work? Yeah, sure. Maybe I would like to see a first person point of view. Maybe then, I could be comfortable with the writing style. All in all, it’s a good book.

Rating: 3 stars

It’s still good and it still hurts.

Captive by Brighton Walsh: Book Review

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Synopsis: He’s the most dangerous man she’s ever met…and she’s falling in love with him.Madison Frost is desperate to escape her life. Daughter of a prominent businessman, she has everything a girl could ask for. Except for a family who’s present in her life, and anyone to talk to outside the four walls of the prison she calls home. Madison dreams of one day leaving her life behind. She never thought being kidnapped is how it would happen.Now she’s being held captive by a man who’s as frightening as he is sinfully gorgeous. Enormous, muscular, and filled with secrets, the man they call Ghost is an enigmatic mercenary, and Madison is trapped with him. She doesn’t know who hired him or why, but the more time she spends at his mercy, the more she realizes he’s not what he seems. Beneath his rough exterior lies an unexpected gentleness and a heart as broken and battered as her own.But as Madison lets down her walls, Ghost holds tight to his, hiding secrets that could destroy everything.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of Publication: March 24, 2015

Date Read: February 10, 2015

No. of Pages: 288

Source: Net Galley

REVIEW

It will be impossible to put this book down. It was so engrossing, it’ll be a stupid idea to stop. 

I received an ARC from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. The only time I put down this book was when I had to participate in this stubborn thing called life which included, work, sleeping, eating and talking to other living and breathing human, take all that and you will find me gushing and swooning over this book, that’s how engrossed I was.  I am such a sucker for this kind of stories, I could read a story like this in any given day. But this book is different from all the stories with the same story line I have read, usually when a man takes captive of a woman, the said man will be rough bordering abusive or downright possessive with next to nothing moral fiber within him. it will be cringe-worthy and you have to stomach everything inhumane done to the woman, but this book is entirely different and that’s the main thing that made me fall in love with this book, and boy I fell fast and hard! Ghost was nothing but gentle, caring and tender it was a side of a captor that was not so commonly painted in other books. And Madison, though naive had balls, had the guts, he was her own heroine.

I loved how the story progressed. How all the secrets unfold, though I already knew that would be the big twist, still it was well played out. I loved how everything happened not in an instant but gradually, it wasn’t like the first time they laid eyes on each other the connection was already palpable, that Madison would easily fall for Ghost’s icy blue eyes, no it wasn’t the case. It was as real as it could get, the author didn’t immediately jump into forcing the main characters into each other and for a reader who have read too much instant affection to last her a lifetime, I really appreciated this one.

I loved the writing style too and the dual point of view, I specifically liked when Ghost was the one narrating. I also commend the fact that Madison was described as lush however it didn’t sit well with me that she had all these insecurities eating her away, but it was part of the story so in the grand scheme of things it was still good. I loved Ghost, did I mention that already? Goodness, why does he have to be so.. so lovable? I mean come on, what is not to love? This guy, is quite the guy!

I loved Captive!!! I can’t wait to read more of Brighton Walsh’s work! I heard she’s an awesome writer, well I could totally see why! Solid five stars for this one!

Rating: 5 stars

Sometimes the unknown was better than what was staring you in the face.