A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: Book Review

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cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.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

Publisher: Doubleday

Date Published: March 10, 2015

Date Read: November 2016

No. of Pages: 720 pages

Setting: New York

REVIEW

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RATING: rating_5stars

 

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

 

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K. V. Dominic Essential Readings and Study Guide: Poems about Social Justice, Women’s Rights, and the Environment by K.V. Dominic: Book Review | Poetic Book Tours

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Synopsis from Goodreads“K. V. Dominic Essential Readings” gathers for the first time the three most important works of poetry from this shining new light of contemporary Indian verse in English: “Winged Reason,” “Write Son, Write” and “Multicultural Symphony.” A fourth collection of 22 previously unpublished poems round out a complete look at the first 12 years of Dominic’s prolific and profound verse. Each poem includes unique Study Guide questions suitable for South Asian studies curricula.
Written in free verse, each of his poems makes the reader contemplate on intellectual, philosophical, spiritual, political, and social issues of the present world. Themes range from multiculturalism, environmental issues, social mafia, caste-ism, exploitation of women and children, poverty, and corruption to purely introspective matters. From the observation of neighborhood life to international events, and everyday forgotten tragedies of India, nothing escapes the grasp of Dominic’s keen sense of the fragility of life and morality in the modern world.

Publisher: Modern History Press

Date Published: September 1, 2016

Date Read: November 2016

No. Of Pages: 284

Source:  Copy provided by Poetic Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Check it out on Amazon.

About the Author: Internationally acclaimed poet Prof. K. V. Dominic (Kerala, India) is the author of three major volumes of poetry about the natural world as well as social and political commentary: Winged Reason, Multicultural Symphony, and Write, Son, Write.

Review

RELEVANT AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING

We need more of this in the book community. This masterpiece had to be written, not just for the sake of empathy but more importantly for awareness. I always challenge myself with the books I read, there are books that are easy to read and will be forgotten in the years to come, but also there are books that would stay with you – this book is one of them. The beauty of how it depicted the pressing issues in the society that we live in, lyrical yet with impact. Something that had to be said over and over drilling it into the minds of the closed-minded ones. I commend how rich and how it was able to show the other side of what people usually miss out. It wasn’t just promoting awareness, but immersing ourselves into the reality that we face day in and day out. It was more of an invitation to do something about it, to finally stand up for what we believe in. Stand up for the things they often shut us out.

The poems varied from important social issues, to culture, women’s rights and yes even environment. You would easily notice the author’s persistence to make all these problems and all these issues be relevant, to be talked about and eventually resolve them, in whatever for it may come from. I commend that the author used his vast knowledge and experience in concocting a truly revolutionary work. I loved how he used the written words as medium to send the message across. It is as if it is a summon to awaken one’s sense to see past the veil of oppression and passivity. It was more than a collection of poems, it is a voice that demands to be heard.

Take the poem Mother’s Love for an instance.

Maternal love, love sublime

Inexplicable, unfathomable

Noblest of all emotions

Visible both on human beings

and other beings

xxx

Maternal love is transcendent emotion

Both human species

and other species possess

I am perplexed

by some sporadic disasters

A mother offering her

affectionate daughter

to please her lover’s sexual urge

How could she throw her dead child

to the hungry wold?

How could she suppress

the divine emotion of maternal love?

also the poem I Can Hear the Groan of Mother Earth

I can hear the groan of mother earth

being raped by her own beloved human sons

Having sucked all milk from her mountain breasts

quarry deep out of construction mania.

and this passage from the poem “A Nightmare”

A lavish wedding feast was served in the town hall,

rich delicacies heaped on the plates,

were relished by the pompous guests

I could see two ragged girls outside

struggling with the dogs in the garbage bin.

Now this poem is my favorite: Pleasures and Pains

Pleasures and pains;

two sides of a coin.

We toss it early morning;

majority gets the pains side.

Pleasures come like sprinkle,

while pains fall like deluge

and continue like monsoon.

Happiness is a mist

while sorrows shower like snow.

There was something so haunting about his poems. KV Dominic’s poems were written in such a manner that it is easier to grasp and fully digest, it was straight to the point without any reservations whatsoever. It was as honest as it could get. My ultimate favorite would be the whole collection of poems under Write Son, Write.

Now I could highly recommend this one for someone who wants to branch out to poetry and at the same time would want to immerse himself in social awareness and the present predicament that the humanity faces. This would be the perfect book.

Rating: rating_4stars

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Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads:  The compulsively readable #1 New York Times bestseller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangle not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

“Nothing is more addicting than The Girl on the Train.” —Vanity Fair.

“The Girl on the Train has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl… [It] is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership.” —The New York Times.

“Marries movie noir with novelistic trickery… Hang on tight. You’ll be surprised by what horrors lurk around the bend.” —USA Today.

PAULA HAWKINS worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in London. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller.

Date Published: January 2015

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Date Read:

No. of Pages: 478

Edition: Mass Market PaperBack

Source: Fully Booked

Setting: Euston, London

 

REVIEW

THIS MAY SOUND A CLICHE BUT I SERIOUSLY HELD MY BREATH THE LAST 50 PAGES

I have a few experience with mystery/thriller so whenever I come across one, I don’t know if I was just being easy to please or the story was really good to warrant such reaction from me.  I know a lot of people has been saying that Girl On The Train is just another second rate version of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which I have read some three years ago. I was one of them, operative here word: was. I easily dismissed this book the first time it came out, Gone Girl has been a favorite book, and having heard of the premise of Girl on The Train made me a little unsure if I would read it or not. While it is true that there is the element of Gone Girl to it, with a girl missing and an unexpected twist, one cannot help to compare, it is inevitable.  But then Girl on The Train have proven itself to be worthy, it also had its own uniqueness, if only you detach yourself from Gone Girl and see Girl on the Train as it is – just what I did. It would be unfair to this book if we see it as just a second rate version of popular one right? I believe, each book has a right to be read once and not have preconceived notions about it. Read first and then judge, I think that’s how it is supposed to go. So my advice is, give this book a try, yes even if you loved Gone Girl with all your murder-mystery-thriller-loving heart.

 I am always drawn to books with unconventional and dysfunctional marriage as its plotline, it is not what we are accustomed to seeing, well at least on my part, maybe that’s why it appealed to me so much. I do understand, however, that this book isn’t exactly for everyone, either you hate it or you love it, there’s no exactly in between.Unreliable narrator is always a hit or miss for me. The Girl on The Train is hitting it where it should. I loved how Rachel’s character is portrayed, you somehow empathize with her and at the same time suspicious of her actions. You are blindsided and then bam! I loved how everything and everyone are connected paving a way into this complicated scenario that will grip you more than you can possibly allow it to. Girl on The Train had proven itself to be something engaging and beautiful on its own. Paula Hawkins had an incredible talent of trickery, toying people’s mind, shaping their heads to believe in something and then end up presenting something else entirely. I had my suspicion already, and I was 80% sure who it was, but then bam, just like a smack in the face, I didn’t see it coming! It was concocted in such a clever way, much like you didn’t know what hit you until it’s too late.

This book covered a lot of topics that are fully relatable – alcoholism, failed marriages, domestic abuse, a lost career and so on and so forth, though one may not have undergone same extent, but there was sense or element of reality to it that one could not simply miss. No wonder it easily made itself as a best-selling book in a short span of time after its release. Though the book, started off a little slow, the half part definitely made up for it. It was written in such a way that it was easy to grasp and easy to weave in and out of. It was the kind of book that will pull you in, as though time had little importance. It was worth losing sleep over. Once you’ve reached the last 100 pages or so, you have to finish it, no matter what the time was. 3 am? It’s nothing but a little sacrifice, finishing this book is rewarding and satisfying, you can’t just choose sleep forestalling the inevitable end. Nope, that’s not how it’s going to work with this book, it demands your time and you will gladly succumb. No questions asked. It has been a while since that happened to me, more often than not, I always choose sleep over anything else, yep even if I only have 50 pages left, sleep always wins. Well, this book was obviously an exception. And I have no regrets.

Writing this review is proven to be harder than I thought, I wanted to give it justice, but I feel like I am coming short. I just hope I could persuade even a single soul to read this book. And oh, just a tip, please don’t watch the trailer or the movie before reading this,  I think it goes without saying, but then there are people, (me, sometimes) who will go watch, at least the trailer first, before reading the book. For the love of everything that is holy, don’t do that or else you’ll spoil yourself big time!  I have read this one a few days before it hits movie theaters, and I was so great at stopping the urge to watch the trailer. Looking back, had I watched the trailer, I wouldn’t rate the book just the same.

 

Rating: rating_5stars

“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps”
Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

 

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Between Here and The Horizon by Callie Hart: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: “You think you know me. You think you want to know me. But trust me, Miss Lang. Pursuing me will be the worst mistake you ever make. I’m broken beyond repair…


…and I take great pleasure in breaking everyone else around me.”

Ophelia Lang needs money, and she needs it bad. Her parent’s restaurant is going under, and ever since she lost her job teaching third grade elementary, scraping enough cash together to pay the bills has proven almost impossible. Her parents are on the brink of losing their home. The vultures are circling overhead. So when Ophelia is offered an interview for a well-paid private tutoring gig in New York, how can she possibly say no?

Ronan Fletcher is far from the overweight, balding businessman Ophelia expected him to be. He’s young, handsome, and wealthy beyond all reason. He’s also perhaps the coldest, rudest person she’s ever met, and has a mean streak in him a mile and a half wide. A hundred grand is a lot of money, however, and if tolerating his frosty temperament, his erratic mood swings and whatever else he throws at her means she’ll get paid, then that is what Ophelia will do.

Her new boss is keeping secrets, though. Awful, terrible secrets.

The ghosts of Ronan Fletcher’s past are about to turn Ophelia’s future upside down, and she can’t even see it coming.

Note: Between Here and The Horizon is a brand new standalone contemporary romance novel from USA Today bestselling author, Callie Hart. Between Here and the Horizon does contain some scenes of violence and sexual content, and so is directed at audience 18+

Date Published: October 18, 2016

Date Read: October 23, 2016

Source: Kindle Edition

Setting: The Causeway, Maine

 

REVIEW

This book is anything but a typical romance novel. 

Who puts a shocking twist in the first 20% of a book? Apparently this author. To be completely honest I was about to DNF this one, it felt like I’m not going to enjoy it or I need to read other books that are more to my liking and more of something I was in the mood for. I was in the mood for romance novels, and upon seeing that this book fell under that category plus look at that gorgeous cover, I started it immediately. But as I’ve mentioned, the first few chapters proved to be hard to get into, I couldn’t see where the romance will come in or how it will play out, but then after that shocking twist, I knew I had to continue or it will forever haunt me. And so here I am, writing this review. The first tip is, be patient with this one, I swear it gets better. It just needs some getting used to, but once you’ve moved past the hard parts, it will be rewarding. Trust me on this.

The ghosts of Ronan Fletcher’s past are about to turn Ophelia’s future upside down, and she can’t even see it coming.

That part of the blurb, OH MY GOD, it foreshadowed what’s about to happen! And yep, no one saw that coming! I was at a public transportation when I reached that part and it was so hard to contain my shock. This is the internal struggle of a reader, everyone is going through the notions of their own lives and there I was battling with all the emotions I am struggling to contain inside me. And I tell you, it ain’t easy.

Writing this review is harder than I thought. I want to tell you about the goodness of this book but how can I when I can’t tell you who ends up with who and what happens to this and that. Okayyy. How do I go about this without spoiling something? I guess I would have to be as vague as possible. So please bear with me on this one. I just don’t like to kill the mood for you by accidentally revealing a major plot twist, I will do the best I can to give you a somewhat good review, despite me going around the bush.

This book had the mystery/thriller element to it that made it different from a lot of romance novels out there. It wasn’t what you are expecting. It will continually surprise you until the very end. This is the reason why I enjoyed this book so much, there was the element of surprise, the readers are constantly guessing what will happen, conjuring up theories as to where will the story might lead, and then everything will not go the way they imagined it to. It was hard to pull off something like it but Callie Hart made it look effortless. This is the first book I have read by her, and to say that I am missing out would be an understatement. If all her books were as shocking and as unique as this, then count me in. And my favorite thing in the world, MILITARY men! Haha I don’t know what is it with stories about military men, but I love reading books about them!

So if you like:

Brooding and angsty male protagonist with a soft side deep down the recesses of his being

A strong female protagonist who takes no shit from anybody

Steamy steamy moments (Oh boy)

A shocking twist

Coherence of story from the prologue down to the last page

The search is over, you have found your match! This book is definitely for you!

I appreciated the coherence of the story, from the prologue, which had set the perfect mood but did not give anything away, down to the last chapter where everything made complete sense. It was the kind of book that will leave you in awe. The book was well thought-out, save for the few issues I have, all in all, it was an amazing read. I couldn’t wait to start yet another book by her and see where Callie Hart’s imagination will take me!

 

 

RATING: rating_4stars

“He was a man possessed. I was a woman lost. Together, we were two halves of something fragile and delicate, beautiful in its complexity.”

Callie Hart, Between Here and the Horizon

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Just A Kiss by Denise Hunter: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads:   Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.

Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.

But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.

Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it.

As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?

Publisher: Smith Publicity Inc.

Date Published: September 6, 2016

Date Read: October 13, 2016

Source: Advanced Reader Copy provided by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Setting: Summer Harbor, Maine

REVIEW

The publisher provided me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much, Smith Publicity Inc.

I think this is my first Christian Contemporary Romance, I’ve been raking my brains out to remember if I have read one before but came up empty. Maybe I have read some before, I just don’t remember them. It happens, right? Anyways, so yes I’m gonna claim this as my first Christian Contemporary Romance. Just A Kiss is the third book in the Summer Harbor Series, but it is a stand alone – which I appreciate a lot. I’m not a huge series fan lately for multitudes of reasons, the number one being: I just don’t have the time to invest in a series now. So when Smith Publicity Inc. contacted me and explained that Just A Kiss can be read on its own, I immediately agreed. But the main reason why I agreed to review a copy is because the male protagonist is a Marine. If you have known me for quite a while, you’ll understand my obsession about marines in books.I don’t really know what is it about marines that I love so much, but I immensely enjoy reading about them. Gahhhh it is so hard to explain. Maybe because they start off as brooding men but definitely has a soft side.

I love stories about best friends turning into lovers. There’s nothing more satisfying than that. I am always such a sucker for these kinds of books, so much so that I have drafted bazillion stories like it, in the hopes of having it published someday. That’s for another time, you are here for my review right? Haha I always get sidetracked. Okay, so on to Just A Kiss. Have you watched Hallmark movies? So for those who aren’t aware of Hallmark movies, these are cutesy, heartwarming, and just ohhh so good and decent if I may add, romance films.  Just A Kiss is a Hallmark movie in book form. Am I making any sense? It was cute, heartwarming, so so good and very decent. What more could one possibly ask for? Just A Kiss is the perfect mixture of self-discovery, resilience, regrets, tragedy, self-acceptance, second chances, love and all the emotional excitement that goes with it. I loved how the story was as real as it could get.

In Just A Kiss we follow the story of Riley and Paige, who are best friends. Riley has been harboring feelings for Paige for a long time.While Riley and Paige dance around, refusing to acknowledge what they feel for each other, it is kind of nice to look forward to how all will unfold and how both of them will find out their true feelings for each other, it is as if you feel for them, root for them to end up together once and for all. And when that moment finally arrived, it was nothing short of perfect. I loved how everything unfolded, how they ease into each other’s lives like they were born to do just that. But of course there had to be some setbacks, and I appreciate that it was well played out, there was just the right drama that surrounded it and the perfect resolution to the whole story. It was a feel good at best, and I have found a go-to author for whenever I want to read some heartwarming stories with a good lesson or two.

So if you are a new Denise Hunter fan just like me, or just looking for a good romance, then this book is the answer. I loved how it made me feel, like everything in the world is right again! Can’t wait to read more of her books!

Rating: rating_4stars

Maybe he’ll come around, and maybe he won’t. But if there’s anything I’ve learned  in all these years it’s that you can’t contol someone else. You can only control yourself – on a good day. You need to find something productive to keeo your mind busy. Focus on you. On being the best that you can be.

– Just A Kiss; Denise Hunter

 

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November 9 by Colleen Hoover: Book Review

Synopsis from GoodreadsBeloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist

Publisher:  Atria Books

Date Published: November 10, 2015

Date Read: October 19, 2016

Source/Format: Kindle edition

Setting: Los Angeles

REVIEW

NEVER HAVE I BEEN SO CONFLICTED OVER A BOOK UNTIL NOVEMBER 9.

It’s true, it was so hard to rate this one. It feels like I am still going to change my mind in the future, but for now, let’s settle with a 2- star rating. My mind and my heart are at war with each other right now, my feelings dictate to love this book despite its many flaws, but my mind knows logic. And this time I am choosing logic over feelings, because at this point I am after the substance of the book, rather than how it made me feel – this book made me feel plethora of emotions, alright, but I can’t go on basing my thoughts on feelings alone right? Past 50% of the book I was so sure to give it 5 stars, then came 75% and my excitement is waning down, then onto 82% and it lost me completely.

Let me first tell you what I loved about it, I don’t want this review to sound like a rant. There is definitely something I like about it, so let me discuss it before I go full rant mode. First, I loved the concept of Ben and Fallon meeting every November 9th. It was yes like One Day but as Ben puts it, theirs was unique one, and I have to give Colleen Hoover props for it. It was sure a great concept, I sure would love to read something more like this. And the writing style is good too, well I think that’s an established fact when it comes to Colleen Hoover books. She sure knows where to hit the right spot. Her writing style is addictive and many can attest to that, myself included. I always loved the concept of writers as characters in books, there’s always something comforting about it, and I sure as hell loved Ben The Writer the first half of the book, I mean what is not to love? He was funny, smart, adorable and just perfect. But I never learn with CoHo books.There is always a catch. Always.

This is the fourth book I have read by her. First was Hopeless, Maybe Someday, It Ends With Us and then November9. I’m not one to tell that this book was the least of what she has written, but it definitely didn’t quite match the three books I have read, I might be on the minority side on this one, but I’ll say my piece. What irked me was the fact that this book pushed it a little too far, so much so that it was almost cringe-worthy. I mean I know it is a work of fiction, but I longed for that modicum or element of reality in the books I read, something one could at least relate to. This book fell short in that category. If anything, reading November9 is like watching a daytime drama – yes it was that dramatic and too unrealistic, too over the top, but ultimately something people can’t get enough of. I guess it was trying to make an impact, that whoa factor, that gasp-inducing  moment, that smack-in-the-face-before-you-can-register-what-just-happened, it did. But it didn’t work for me, it was just too much. I fell in love hard and fast with the first few chapters and that same love was gone just as fast. Gone before I could acknowledge it, gone before I could savor it. It was easy to love this book, and I understand those who do, I really do, because at one point in this book I saw myself loving it too. Maybe if the book ended at 75% or without that terrible twist, I would have loved it. But no, there has to be this devastating twist, which ruined everything for me. The deception was painted in a romantic way, it is as if in doing so, it was justified. It was so wrong on so many levels. What Ben did, was just wrong and the explanation that came looked like a mere after-thought – again to justify the deception and manipulation (for lack of a better term). And how it was so easy for Fallon to just accept it, damn girl, your mother taught you better than that!

And did I mention how sooooo cheesy most of the parts were? If you know me long enough, you probably would know that I love cheesy and all that mushy things in a book, well November9 took it to the moon, like wayyyy up there, that it is not even sweet anymore it is bordering creepy and obsessive, which, no thanks, I’ll pass up. Plus this book was made for it to be liked by readers, you don’t get what I’m saying? Let me put it this way, Fallon is a wide romance-reader, which we all are here, if you have read Colleen Hoover books, then it is safe to assume you love the genre, right? Because what the hell are you doing here if you’re not into romance novels. Anyway, so she’s a sucker for romance novels, in romance novels, there are, book-boyfriends, book worthy kisses, angst, alpha-males, and all that jazz. This book tried to incorporate all these things here. It was trying to lure readers into liking it, at first it worked on me, but then it got old and nope, just stop it. I don’t know if I was able to explain that clearly, but I couldn’t give out spoilers okay. So I guess you have to see it for yourself.

So there, I have to stop now. If you want to give this book a try, go ahead, maybe you could appreciate it more than I did, and that’s really good. Maybe I missed out on the message the book was trying to send across, or maybe it was just a case of bad timing. I don’t know. I finished the book, so I think that’s good enough. Will this book tarnish the love I have for Colleen Hoover? Definitely not, we have our favorite authors, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that we have to love everything they have written. So which one should I read next?

Reviews are reviews, they are opinions of the readers, which more often than not are always at opposites with each other, I respect the ones who loved it, good for you. But also you have to respect those who didn’t. So let’s just enjoy reading and be nice to each other!

RATING: rating_2stars

“She “loved me” in quotations

She kissed me in bold

I TRIED TO KEEP HER in all caps

She left with an ellipsis . . .”
Colleen Hoover, November 9

Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn: Book Review | Poetic Book Tour

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Synopsis from Goodreads: Dear Almost is a book-length poem addressed to an unborn child lost in miscarriage. Beginning with the hope and promise of springtime, poet Matthew Thorburn traces the course of a year with sections set in each of the four seasons. Part book of days, part meditative prayer, part travelogue, the poem details a would-be father’s wanderings through the figurative landscapes of memory and imagination as well as the literal landscapes of the Bronx, Shanghai, suburban New Jersey, and the Japanese island of Miyajima. As the speaker navigates his days, he attempts to show his unborn daughter “what life is like / here where you ought to be / with us, but aren’t.” His experiences recall other deaths and uncover the different ways we remember and forget. Grief forces him to consider a question he never imagined asking: how do you mourn for someone you loved but never truly knew, never met or saw? In candid, meditative verse Dear Almost seeks to resolve this painful question, honoring the memory of a child who both was and wasn’t there.

Publisher: Louisiana State University Press

Date Published: September 1, 2016

Date Read: October 5,2016

No. Of Pages: 88

Source: Copy provided by Poetic Book Tours

 

Review

Dear Almost is a painful depiction of how fleeting everything is – gone before you had the chance to grasp it into your hands. Matthew Thorburn will take us into the center of their grief and loss over their “almost baby girl”. I for one is not a parent yet, but you need not be one to understand and feel the depth of the emotion this poem conveys. This book attest to human’s attachment to other people, however brief or however long the relationship had been, or however real or just in “concept” it was. It is true what they say, it is more painful to let go of something that was never yours to begin with. It was told in a what-could-have-been concept. How their baby would have looked like had she reached this certain age, or how she would have reacted or what would she have liked had she grown up and experience everything that life has to offer. There was so much beauty in the way Matthew Thorburn portrayed it, it was vivid, making it all the more heartbreaking that it already was.

What went wrong

for no other reason, finally,

than that it didn’t go right.

Ours is the story of how

is became was and was became

wasn’t became no,

became not. The story of our

almost girl, our might’ve been.

It wasn’t just simply mere lamentation of parents, but it was a howl to the wind of something they have no control over – it was as though every grief and loss no matter in what form it came, is universal. You grieve over something that should have stayed a little longer.

So give me a sign if

you’re out there, if you’re

the light swaying, swinging

between trees, that light

growing faint, drifting deeper

into the shadowy woods,

if you’re that pale glow

 

between the elms and alders.

What star do you steer by?

Where are you going?

Tell me you can hear this

if that’s you who pauses

beside a ragged oak,

head cocked to one side

like a doe, light bouncing back

from your dark eyes,

if that’s you moving under

starlight and moonlight,

waiting for a gauze of cloud

to dim the world

 

so you can slip away

once more. Tell me, are these

your footprints I find

in the morning in the dark

wet earth, faint traces

in the muck and loam

that slowly fill with water?

Matthew Thorburn offers a profound understanding of what it is like to hold on to a memory and eventually come to terms with the loss. Through the change of the season, or the length of time that passed, it was ultimately something that would inevitably be a part of a person – their sadness and grief fuse with their persona making them a deeper and stronger version of themselves. Dear Almost engages the reader to feel the immense pain of undergoing such unfortunate loss, the regrets and plans made that will never come to fruition. The whole idea of the book appealed to me so much and couldn’t help but pass it on to other people, may they be poetry reader or not. Matthew Thorburn has earned a new fan in me.

 

Rating: rating_5stars

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