Fierce Fairytales: Poems & Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill | Book Review

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Poet, writer, and Instagram sensation Nikita Gill returns with a collection of fairytales poetically retold for a new generation of women. 

Traditional fairytales are rife with cliches and gender stereotypes: beautiful, silent princesses; ugly, jealous, and bitter villainesses; girls who need rescuing; and men who take all the glory.

But in this rousing new prose and poetry collection, Nikita Gill gives Once Upon a Time a much-needed modern makeover. Through her gorgeous reimagining of fairytale classics and spellbinding original tales, she dismantles the old-fashioned tropes that have been ingrained in our minds. In this book, gone are the docile women and male saviors. Instead, lines blur between heroes and villains. You will meet fearless princesses, a new kind of wolf lurking in the concrete jungle, and an independent Gretel who can bring down monsters on her own.

Complete with beautifully hand-drawn illustrations by Gill herself, Fierce Fairytales is an empowering collection of poems and stories for a new generation.

Date Published: September 11, 2018

Date Read: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Hatchette Books

Genre: Poetry

Number of Pages: 159

Get your copy here: Amazon | Book Depository

 

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Great premise, mediocre execution. 

I’ve read her previous poetry book Your Soul is a River and quite enjoyed the same. I remember tabbing few poems that resonated with me more than the others. It has a theme of self-love, self-healing, love, loss and heartbreak, which I appreciated. Now comes her newest poetry book Fierce Fairytales: Poems & Stories to Stir Your Soul which delves on a different take on our most loved fairy tales. Incorporated herein, are the same themes she’s been actively advocating — feminism and self-love. And while I enjoyed some of the poems and stories in this collection, I found them to be repetitive to a fault. There are stories that could have been executed better. Some of the poems were too literal leaving less imagination to its readers. This collection of poetry is great for beginners, for those who just ventured out into the genre, but to those people who have been exposed to poetry, this book can be another mediocre one. While I appreciate the message this book was trying to convey, I just felt like it could be so much more. It had a great potential and premise but just wasn’t maximize to its full potential. Would you believe that it took me almost three months to finish this? Because to be completely honest, it didn’t hold much of my attention. I felt like I have read so many similar poems contained here, that it has become too overrated already. It doesn’t serve anything new, but only made a different spin on stories we knew by heart. While there is nothing wrong with that, but it could be a tricky one. An author should be able to incorporate newness in a familiar thing for it to work, but that isn’t the case here.

I was expecting something different, something more profound, something that would pack a punch – but didn’t get any of that here. I was trying to love it because of the feminist theme, but I just couldn’t  bring myself to do just that. This book was trying to put some twist on our most-loved fairy tales and at first that excited me, but half way through the book all the magic was lost on me. It was meh. I just finished the book just so I could move on to better books. I guess this book just wasn’t for me.

Still thank you Hachette books for sending me a copy!

 

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“I hope you summon your courage and you invite your demons to tea, and you learn to listen to all their stories.”
― Nikita Gill, Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul

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Nerdy Talks’ Top Reads of 2018

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Another year ended, another year full of adventures through the pages of books.  Though 2018 was not a great reading year for me, I am still pretty satisfied with the 40 books I managed to read this year, and I am happy I found few gems! Stories that will stay with me in this lifetime, without further ado, here are my Top Reads of 2018!

1. Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe is my first Madeline Miller book. And to be completely honest I did not know what to expect. It turned out to be at my advantage,  I kept my expectations at a minimum and so when the book blew me away I was completely head over heels with it. Circe is a greek god I knew next to nothing about, reading it was a mixture of excitement and of curiosity. Reading Circe is getting more out of a 400 page book, it was so condensed, you have to give your undivided attention to fully appreciate everything. And once you already immersed yourself in it, you’ll notice how everything becomes a distant sound, how you entirely space out completely oblivious of the world around you. That’s one thing a good book could give you, and Circe gave so much more than that. Circe is a character driven book, a kind of book I have not read a lot of. I am more of a plot-driven reader, Circe proved to be a breath of fresh air. This book will make you fall in love with Greek Mythology harder than ever! You can check my full review here. And now Madeline Miller is an author I would always be watching out for.

 

2. Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

 

Call Me By Your Name is unapologetically honest and unabashedly deviant. It is that kind of book you never thought you needed. It will captivate you by how beautifully it was written and it would rip your heart as well by how everything unfolded. I read this book earlier in 2018 and knew to myself I am in for a good reading year. Call Me By Your Name isn’t my usual cup of tea, and that was what surprised me in the end, I didn’t expect to like it this much. Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful story on the discovery of sexual orientation and sexual preference, the inevitable confusion of the people involved and how were they able to reconcile with themselves. It was relevant and painted in such a beautiful light. You feel with the characters like it is second nature. I also immediately watched the movie after reading the book. Best reading experience if you ask me. Check out my review here.

3. Behind Closed Door by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors shook me to my core. It was disturbing and intense, and I don’t say that often. Impossible to put down.  It’s the kind of book you finish in one sitting. It is about what seemed to be a perfect married couple with some horrifying secret they both have to keep. I never really had any plans reading Behind Closed Doors, but you know what they say, the perfect book will find you at the perfect moment. I was glad I came across this one, it is the kind of book I wouldn’t have picked up on my own. And can I just say, Behind Closed Doors has one of the best endings. That ending was so good I literally had goosebumps! It was the sweetest redemption, it was poetic justice.  Find out for yourself! Check my review of the book here.

 

4. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Ahhh this fluffy book! * insert heart eyes and heart fingers* After reading this one I couldn’t quite shake off the smile on my face. It was everything good and then some. I love how it featured an asian male protagonist (a Korean, no less! Oppa) . 2018 has really been a year of breaking stereotypes and I hope I could read more books like this in 2019! And the female protagonist, isn’t our usual damsel in distress, I love love love her eccentricities. Everything was played just right. This is just basically begging to be made into a Rom-Com movie, so Netflix do your magic!

 

5. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient is by far the best romance book I’ve read of all time! I loved it so much it was bordering obsession already! I love that there is Asian representation, and an accurate one at that. Also The Kiss Quotient is an own voices book, it promises authenticity and rawness like no other. And oh my goodness, it has the steamiest scenes, something you wouldn’t expect. It was a total surprise and was well written you can’t help but hang on to everything that’s happening. It was more than a romance novel, and I highly believe this is how romance novel should be done!  You can check my review here.

6. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

I’ll Meet You There is a such a good YA book and I never thought I would enjoy it this much. It was everything YA promises to be: tugs at your heartstrings, wholesome and organic. There was this sense of maturity to it that was hard to miss. I’ll Meet You There is an honest, beautiful and realistic story about two flawed characters trying to deal with their own demons. I love how the romance was played out well, it was a slow burn and just right. I’ll Meet You There is a mixture of depth, great character build-up and realistic life-lessons. This was the story of loss, healing and young love. You can check my review here.

7. Littles Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

 

Little Fires Everywhere is gold. It was a book that lived up to its hype. I didn’t know what I was in for when I started reading Little Fires Everywhere turns out I would be in one emotional ride. Little Fires Everywhere will bring you that sense of foreboding, that feeling that there’s always more to it than what was presented. The lives of the characters are so intricately woven together completing a masterpiece. God, to say I am floored would be an understatement. It was a slow burn (pun intended), but ultimately something that would seep through your bones! I’ve been meaning to read Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You but never got the chance to. After reading Littles Fires Everywhere  I knew in my hearts of hearts that I will be reading anything this author writes.

8. All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover has done it again! Wow this book made me cried buckets! I didn’t know I could cry like that over a book. But oh my goodness this book just brought out all these crazy emotions I have inside me, I was one tear away from having an emotional breakdown, hahah I kid you not! All Your Perfects is a story about an imperfect marriage. Colleen Hoover’s writing style just keeps getting better through the years. I really thought I was over Colleen Hoover, but boy this is the proof that once a Hoover fan, always a Hoover Fan. You can check my review here.

9. First Person and Other Stories by Ali Smith

Finally my first Ali Smith book! I have been collecting her works since 2016, I have heard tons of amazing things about her, but I never got around to actually reading one of her books. I remedied that this 2018 and finally read her collection of short stories – The First Person and Other Stories. As said in the synopsis, Ali Smith explores the ways and whys of storytelling, and that what she did in this collection. It was weirdly satisfying, and I don’t get that much often. The First Person and Other Stories gives off dark humour and bits and pieces of everyday life that you often take for granted. I loved how every story had its own wit, its own take on everyday mundane lives and turned it into something meaningful and relevant. How something so trivial can have such a rippling effect in the future. This book didn’t stop at just telling stories, it transcends into this realm of understanding human flaws that was presented in a captivating light, not just highlighting the good parts but most especially the bad ones. That once it all meld together it was just a beautiful piece of an odd art. You can check my review here.

10. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver is my first Naomi Novik read. I have heard a ton of amazing things about her debut book – Uprooted so I had a quite high expectation with Spinning Silver and it did not disappoint. Spinning Silver is a loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. At first I had a hard time getting into the story but once I got the hang of it, I wasn’t able to stop, it gripped me like a vise.  Spinning Silver was written so vividly and beautifully it is as if you are there inside the story. You cannot miss its lyrical writing. It is whimsical, layered, complex and unconventional. Truly a gem. You can check my review here.

and you thought I was done there. I’m adding one more book in this list and that is

11. Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami will always have a special place in my heart. Back in 2014 when I am not yet a book collector, I have read Norwegian Wood and fell in love with it, I knew then that I had to fill my bookshelf with his works. His writing style will always be a thing of beauty, it has this calm yet impactful quality to it that is still very apparent in his collection of short stories – Men Without Women. My fave stories in this book were Men Without Women, Kino and Independent Organ. Men Without Women is about the despairs of men and how they go about it. This is a good place to start if you want to read Haruki Murakami’s books.

 

So that is it guys, the books I enjoyed immensely. I am hoping 2019 would be a great reading year for me. I cannot wait to read my next favorite book. Thank you for sticking around, even if I have a very scarce posts here and there. I promise to do better for 2019! May you have a fruitful year ahead of you, and I hope you’ll get to read your next favorite book too! Happy New Year, fam!

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Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris | Book Review

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Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Date Published: August 9, 2016

Publisher: Harlequin Books

Date Read: September 2, 2018

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Setting: London, England; Bangkok, Thailand

Get your copy here: Amazon | Book Depository  | Book Outlet

 

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Disturbing and intense! I couldn’t put it down!

Behind Closed Doors will suck you in this vortex of twisted story behind what seemed to be a perfect marriage. I love how the blurb went on as vague as possible without any shred of a clue. I loved how it could toy with your mind and let your imagination go wherever it wishes to go and then smack you in the face of what really was the story all about. None of what you have expected, not even remotely close. I would try to be as vague in my review, without touching anything that could give the book away, so bear with me on this one. Just hold on to my word, this book is really good.

I was hooked from the very first chapter up until that last sentence. I loved that our narrator, Grace, was dropping subtle hints here and there, letting you picture out and keeps you guessing what is so wrong with her marriage and her husband — Jack Angel. This is what got me hooked, the small hints thrown in between. It’s like you’re given a purpose, that goal to figure out at the earliest possible opportunity what is really happening. Maybe Grace is crazy, maybe Jack is the ever loving husband. All the possibilities are there, and they are endless. Understandably, this book isn’t for everyone. There are scenes in this book that is just too much, so much so, that you find yourself momentarily stunned. Frozen for a brief moment psycho-analyzing what you just read. Your imagination gets the best of you and you involuntarily shudder. But then during those momentary reprieve, you couldn’t stop yourself thinking about it, so you pick it back up and resume reading, eager to know what will unfold, how will the story conclude or is there ever hope for the characters.

(I would not go in detail about the characters, as it would give too much of the book away. But know this, the characters will surprise you, may it be in a revolting way or in an oh-yes-i-am-so-rooting-for-you kind of way. Each character had depth and complexity within them that complements each other and the whole plot. And so sorry George Clooney, you were dragged into all this mess!)

And though I have few issues myself, I didn’t dwell on it too much. The plot wasn’t as solid or as fool-proof but it was more than enough to satisfy its readers. The characters needed more of a back story as well, they could have been presented in a more complex way, but again, I didn’t dwell too much on that, because despite all this, the book was able to deliver, more than what you have bargained for.

You see, a psychological thriller will never please everyone. There would be people who may be appalled by it, and in the same vein there may be people would love it so much. Psychological thrillers can be a hit or miss, depending how the cards are played. Behind Closed Doors was executed well. It definitely had the ability to constantly put its reader at the edge of their seats. The shift of chapters from past to present made the book more appealing. It sets the tone of the whole book, how one chapter in the Present correlates to the chapter in the Past solidifying the plot and making the book more coherent. Each chapter served to be a glimpse of what happened before and what is about to transpire. Giving something for the reader to look forward to and something to ponder on.

That ending was so good I literally had goosebumps! It was the sweetest redemption, it was poetic justice. It was everything done wrong back fired! It was vindication, and I felt triumphant with the character! When I wasn’t sure whether to give this book full five stars, it was the ending that closed the deal for me. It was so good, I was mentally giving BA Paris a high five! Uttering to myself, that is how psychological thriller should be made – with vindication. Truly, revenge is a dish best served cold! It has been a while since I last read a psychological thriller. It was that kind of book that I never knew I needed. Now I vow to read every book she has ever written. This goes without saying, I found a new favorite author and a new favorite book! Highly recommend.

 

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“I look around at everybody laughing and joking together and struggle to understand my life has become a living hell that nobody present could even begin to imagine”
― B.A. Paris, Behind Closed Doors

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han | Book Review

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What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

Date Published: March 20, 2015

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Date Read: August 31, 2018

No. of Pages: 355

Setting: Charlottesville, Virginia

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Get your copy here: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble  | National Bookstore 

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Movie was way better than the book!

I went against the unwritten rule of every reader: to read the book first before watching the movie. It was actually the movie that pushed me to read the book. I wanted to know if Movie Peter was just as dreamy as the Book Peter.

Verdict: I liked Movie Peter way more than the Book Peter. Movie Peter was less of an asshole than the book counterpart. I know we only get the sugar-coated version in the movie, and maybe that’s was what I wanted. Book Peter did a lot of things that frustrate me. Him being head over heels Gen, kind of put me off. At least in the movie it was down-played. Okay enough with the comparison with the film!

While I did get the whole dimension of the characters, understood why they acted the way they did, I was looking for something more. YA can be a bit tricky for me, there are YA books that really wow me, and there are others that fell short. Much like any other kind of genre. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before fell a little short for me. It was a little childish for my own liking. Our narrator Lara Jean, sounded like she was 12, and I almost cringe to know that she’s almost 17. Also, why does it feel like YA books written around 2012-2015 revolved around some high school drama. Like high school is the be all and end all of things. My adult self couldn’t stop rolling her eyes, but I’m aboard the train, so might as well enjoy the ride right?

If you like fake boyfriend-girlfriend trope, then this book will satisfy your cravings. I am so drawn to this kind of trope it has become unhealthy haha.  It feels like I needed to get my hands on every book with this kind of trope. But can we please stop with love triangles? It was so 2012, let’s just move past it can we? Nope? Okay.

The plot of the whole book was preposterous, but I bought it anyway. (But was that the whole point of fiction, to get us out of the crushing weight of reality? hahah) It was so ridiculous you’ll get curious how will the author pull it off. And curious, I’ve been. But after reading it, I instantly needed something more mature to cleanse my palate. So much so, that I immediately jumped into reading a psychological thriller. The shift was a breath of fresh air.

And can we talk about the ending? It ended in a cliffhanger, which leaves you with no choice but to read the sequel. Which to be completely honest, I don’t think I would or at least maybe not in the near future. That ending could have been so much better, at least in the movie there was a period or at least a semi-colon, the book ended in a comma or ellipses, which frustrated me. It could have been better. There could have been one more chapter to tie everything up and make it more put-together. Truly, it was the ending that was a total let down. But all things considered, the book was easy to get through, fun and light to read, cute too! Especially the Halloween part, that was my ultimate fave, sad it wasn’t included in the movie. This book is the perfect companion when you needed to pass time and just for once forget about the complications that is your life. Ultimately did just that for me! And for that, I am grateful.

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“Do you think there’s a difference? Between belonging with and belonging to?”
― Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

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All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover | Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

Date Published: July 17, 2018

Date Read: August 2018

Publisher: Atria Books

Setting: 

No. of Pages: 320

Genre: Romance

Get your copy here: Book Depository | Amazon

 

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Colleen Hoover has done it again! 

I know I said in my review of Confess that I wouldn’t want to think my relationship with Colleen Hoover’s works has already run its course, that I could salvage it. All Your Perfects was my salvation. It was redemption, and a very sweet one. After reading November 9 and Confess, I kind of shied away from CoHo’s books, I thought that was enough for me already, that I should move along and enjoy other authors. And I was wrong. All Your Perfects was a reminder why I loved her writing since 2012.

Imperfect Marriage as its highlight

All Your Perfects is about an imperfect marriage, of two people trying to work things out but is so close to failing. It has flawed characters and a plot that might hit home to most of the people. It was a struggle some married couples undergo.. This is where it will hit you the most, that vulnerability of it possibly happening to you, or might have been happening to some people you know. It tackled something so raw and real. Admittedly, I have been always drawn to books with dysfunctional marriage/family. I loved how the characters deal with their problems and whether they were able to push past it or how they completely drift apart. For me, there is some sense of beauty in dysfunctional people, how they perceive life and the situations they were dealt and how they manage to navigate though life despite it. That’s how a good book connects to people, how it presents not just the good parts but more so the ugly ones. How it highlighted imperfection and flaws, ultimately what makes us human.

Flawed characters

At one point I was so frustrated with our female protagonist – Quinn, but at the same time understood where she was coming from.  Quinn’s predicament plagued her marriage with Graham. The book was written in her perspective. Colleen Hoover was able to write something profound through Quinn’s voice. I commend how mature this book was compared to CoHo’s previous works, it truly is something different. The book highlighted the struggles of modern day woman, and that’s what makes it beautiful, it delved into something not all books willingly talk about.

Then we have Graham, our male protagonist who had flaws of his own but managed to come out of it well. These two characters really complemented each other. Graham oh Graham, he was just so good to Quinn, sometimes I feel like Quinn doesn’t deserve him. Yet another book setting high expectations for men. (This is why I’m single, lol). Graham wasn’t perfect, and so is Quinn, but Graham was the one who came through for this relationship to work, and I love how he was just so patient with Quinn. Graham was never perfect, from the onset he was presented to be as vulnerable as everyone else, but he always rise through the occasion and makes wise decisions. He was the one who stood stronger for the both of them. And though he made a mistake as well, you’ll just understand where all of it was coming from. I love how Colleen Hoover did not romanticize that part but presented it in a no-nonsense approach.

Two perfectly flawed characters who gave me the worst heartbreak. Ahhh I still remember the letters and I am seriously welling up right now. This book was just heartbreaking, I didn’t know what to do with myself from Chapter 20 down to the very end. I was inconsolable to say the least. I felt like I have cried a year’s worth of tears.

Fast Pacing and Unconventional presentation of each chapter 

The Then and Now chapters definitely set the mood. I was happy reading Then chapters and I dreaded reading Now chapters. It gave off this balance, but kind of will put you in a confused state. You don’t know if you’re going to be happy or if you’re going to cry. It made the book a lot faster to read. The pacing was just right. I love the correlation of every events, not one event was unnecessary. It was well put-together.

You’ll cry river of tears

All Your Perfects truly wrecked me. I have cried over books before, yes, but All Your Perfects took it to a whole different level, that kind of level where my flu came back because I cried so hard. Hahah I am not even kidding. And it is a wonder because nothing in the book relates to me, I am not married nor I’m in a relationship. But this book pierced through my heart and set a camp there. I was already warned that I should not be reading this book in public, that I needed to be alone. Well, I guess thanks for the warning, because all the tears came without preamble. Before I know it my shirt was already soaked in tears. It was so dramatic, that I didn’t even wipe any of it, I just let it, one teardrop after another. I was a sight to behold really, and I felt the pain, really, truly felt it. I don’t know why I was so affected by the Now chapters, I have nothing in common with the characters, I haven’t gone through whatever they have been through, but I was so immersed in the story that my heart completely ached for them. I think that’s the gauge of a good book, how it able to transcend from the pages through the reader’s emotions, whether the reader could relate to it or not. Colleen Hoover truly evolved through the years. She always has something new to offer in the table, and everything is different from the last. I mean, where does she get her inspiration from? She is truly talented, no doubt about it.

This may very well be my favorite Colleen Hoover book among the ones I have read. Imagine, Maybe Someday and It Ends With U were dethroned. That is saying quite a lot because I loved those two books so much. That said, please find the time to read this book. I am offering support should you need it, you know where to find me! Go get a copy now.

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“Until then, I will continue to love you more and more with every struggle we face than I loved you when all was perfect.”
Colleen Hoover, All Your Perfects

 

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata | Book Review

Review:

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If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

Date Published: February 1, 2018

Date Read: July 2018

 

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Okay let me just say this first, before everything I’ve been meaning to say slip out of my head. WHY DO THEY BLINK SO MUCH! THEY BLINK SO MUCH AS IF THEY WOULD HAVE A SEIZURE OR SOMETHING IS AWFULLY WRONG WITH THEIR HEAD. There I said it. Never have I read a book that the characters’ blinking is given too much emphasis. NEWS FLASH, people blink, it is no rocket science, you need not be gifted to be able to blink. WHY IN THE WORLD DOES THIS BOOK HAVE TO MENTION THAT THE CHARACTERS ARE BLINKING? DO THEY HAVE SOMETHING IN THEIR EYE? IS THEIR A ROCK IN THERE OR SOMETHING?

Okay. In case you were wondering, yeah, I was shouting.

Now let’s get down to what we are all here for. From Lukov with Love is maybe the first and only book I have read about figure skaters. What attracted me to read it is the glamorous review it has been getting. Who could blame me? It was constantly recommended to me by people whose judgments I really trust. But then again, and I always forget this, we all have different tastes in books and there isn’t any guarantee that what the majority likes, you’ll like too, or even what the majority hates, you’ll hate too. Such is the case with this book. I went ahead reading this book with a very high expectation, an expectation, unfortunately that wasn’t met.

The book is about Jasmine Santos, she’s a half filipino, so yayyy! She’s a figure skater whose career is hanging by a thread. And then we have Ivan Lukov, the golden boy, he has won a lot of championships in figure skating. They were both partnered up to compete together. Sounds like a solid premise, if you ask me. This book revolves around Jasmine’s self-discovery and coming to terms with the hands she was dealt. It was more of a book about loving one’s self despite the flaws, letting people love you despite of it, put some family drama and solid friendship and tadaaa that’s basically the whole gist of the book. And the romance? Well, don’t let it mislead you, it wasn’t really a romance book, partly yes, but it was only at least 70% of the book that Ivan and Jasmine’s romance were emphasized. Is there something completely wrong with that? Well none really, I just wished I wasn’t led to expect a passionate love affair to bloom between the two, when in fact I am not getting any of it. It was a slow burn kind of romance, so slow you’ll get tired waiting for it.

Jasmine Santos’ character is the epitome of the word stubborn. Her character is way too immature for her age. I tried really hard to wrap my brain around everything she did, from those immature banters with her siblings, and with Ivan, down to the repetitive whining, angst and self-pity, boy, one can only read so much of it until she rip her hair off. Then we have Ivan Lukov, the way he indulges in these banters with Jasmine sometimes put me off. It was off-putting, it is borderline problematic. But I pushed past it and tried to read through all the bickering, and tried to appreciate the book for what it was.

Also can I just say how every small details were given too much emphasis and the ones that should be given emphasis  fell extremely short? The movements of the characters, i.e., blinking, cocking his head to the other side, and all these menial acts were so magnified that it truly affected the way I read the book. I tried to move past it, but how can I, when every other page it was mentioned? I was annoyed when I should really be appreciating the story. To be honest it completely ruined everything for me. I was looking for emphasis on the actual figure skating of Jasmine and Ivan, I want it to be so vivid as if I am watching some Olympics competition in my head but I was disappointed. It was just mentioned in passing, and I was like, that is what I am here for and I didn’t get it. It was a let down. Maybe it was so wrong of me to think of VirtueMoir, maybe that added up to the already high expectation. But damn, I was imagining a Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir level of intensity and passion in my head and I got nothing.

Also it felt like the book was preparing you for the biggest surprise, it keeps on building up one scene after another and you are sure something is going to happen but when it did happen you’re just like “????”, I wish there was the word for it hahah but I came out empty. There are moments that are anticlimactic, so much so that it affected the whole reading experience for me.

I hoped for more, maybe that’s what went wrong. I craved for something that would satisfy my thirst for romance books, but this only filled a quarter of the glass. I appreciate Jasmine’s relationship with her family, and Karina also Ivan’s love for dogs, but the story itself was a let down, that ending was cute though, I would have to give it that. It was a good plot, yes, it was the execution that didn’t sit well with me.

 

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“You are who you are in life, and you either live that time trying to bend yourself to make other people happy, or… you don’t.”
Mariana Zapata, From Lukov with Love

 

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Folsom (End of Men Book 1) by Tarryn Fisher and Willow Aster: Book Review

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The nation as we know it is a thing of the past.

With the male species on the verge of extinction, a society called the End Men is formed to save the world. Folsom Donahue is one of twelve men whose sole purpose is to repopulate the Regions. The endless days spent having sex with strangers leaves Folsom with an emptiness no amount of women, money, or status can fill.

Until Gwen.

Gwen has wanted a child for as long as she can remember, but when she finally gets a chance to have her own, she uncovers a long hidden truth. The injustice she sees moves her to help save the men whom no one else believes need saving.

A forbidden love, grown in a time of despair, ignites a revolution.

Folsom and Gwen, torn between their love for each other and their sense of duty, must make a choice. But some will stop at nothing to destroy them.

Folsom is book one of the End of Men series.

Date of Publication:  May 29, 2018

Date Read: June 2018

No. of Pages: 276 pages

Setting: Post Apocalyptic USA

Genre: Romance, Dystopia

Get Your Copy here: Amazon

 

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Folsom, where do I even start? I am really on the fence with this one. A part of me tried really hard to like it, a part of me finds the whole premise obnoxious but clever at the same time and a part of me just wants it to be over. It was a post-apocalyptic setting where men go extinct, and there are only 12 men left to impregnate as much women as possible to be able to repopulate. I know, me too, I had to process all that and I was more skeptical than hopeful. I was scared how will the authors pull off something like this. But I went ahead and read the book.

And oh my goodness, Felicia.

Let’s just say it isn’t my cup of tea (anymore). I’m not the right audience for this. It is with this sad realization that I don’t find joy in reading too much smut in a book anymore, or maybe it was just this one time, or maybe not. I hope this is just a one-time thing. Don’t get me wrong I love romance books with alpha-male and all that jazz, but this one didn’t do it for me. I was cringing half of the time. Maybe it is the way everything was presented, it was too literal, too right in your face (if that even makes sense), there’s just a little room for imagination, like everything was served in a platter and you’re given no choice but to devour it as is. Oh goodness, I hope I am making some sense here.

The characters, those unbearable, annoying characters. We have Folsom, the most sought after End Man. I was equal parts disgusted of his character and at the same time pity him for the hand he was dealt. Yes he was basically the Society’s highest paid prostitute. And believe me this doesn’t sit well with me. THERE WAS SOMETHING PROBLEMATIC but I shrugged it off and read on. I KNOW, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. Believe me I was so tempted to DNF it, but I had to give it the benefit of the doubt, and so here we are. Then we have this love-sick puppy Gwen. She was too smitten I want to rip her hair off. Her character was this poor attempt to be noble, but failed miserably (at least for me). And can I just say how frustrating the women in here, they were like deprived, crazed sex addicts. And just nope, we don’t need that kind of portrayal. The world has doled out too much of it as is, thank you very much.

The book’s attempt to be unique, was just that, an attempt. It failed to sustain the obnoxious yet clever premise it promised. The delivery wasn’t as solid as I expected it to be. It could have been better, oh boy, it definitely could. I can’t pinpoint exactly what is wrong, and because of this it overshadowed any good aspect of the book, and believe me there were few as well. You just have to see past the cringe-worthy parts and the too smitten characters. In summary, the book was a dystopian, post-apocalyptic, erotica that could have been better if the cards were played right. I was looking for more, something that could redeem itself, a silver-lining perhaps, but found nothing.

And yes, I find it hard to believe it was by Tarryn Fisher – an author I love so much. As per Willow Aster, I can’t say much since I have not read anything by her until Folsom. I felt like Tarryn let me down, it is with a heavy heart to say and accept it. What is happening? This is definitely not the kind of book that made me fall in love with her writing. It was just sad. But what I’ll do is just stick around and wait for that book that will make me say “Oh yes, this is the Tarryn Fisher I loved.”, but until then I am not having any more of this End Men series. Folsom is enough I think.

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“It was the truth! For the truth to make a difference, it needs to be said by one person at a time, until there’s a noise loud enough to make a difference.”
Tarryn Fisher, Folsom

 

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I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios: Book Review

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If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating Skylar from art school is three months of summer…until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.

Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.

What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and, soon, something deeper.

Compelling and ultimately hopeful, this is a powerful examination of love, loss, and resilience.

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.

Date Published: February 3, 2015

Date Read: June 2018

No. of Pages: 388

Setting: Creek View, California

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Get Your Copy Here: Book Depository, Amazon

 

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This is it! This is the soft safe harbor amidst all the chaos that is life.

I’ll Meet You There has been sitting on my shelf for a good year now, always looking at it and telling it “I’ll read you one day.” To be honest, it wasn’t on my top to-be-read list, it wasn’t a priority, but boy was I wrong not making it so. I’ll Meet You There brought back my old self, that person who would willingly stay past her bedtime to finish up a book, that old self who’s carefree and just find pure joy in reading, that old self who’s happy hunkered down in her little corner not minding the world outside, and how I’ve missed that! I miss it so bad I was starting to believe I will never be able to bring her back.

I’ll Meet You There is a mixture of depth, great character build-up and realistic life-lessons. It was everything good and then some. It wasn’t your typical YA book, it has this sense of maturity that was hard to miss. I don’t know why but I am always drawn to books with Marines, I think I have mentioned this quite a few times already. This was angsty, but it was well-played out, it was perfectly incorporated in the book making it more engaging that what the premise had promised. I’ll Meet You There is the story of Skylar who couldn’t wait to get out of Creek View and Josh Mitchell who was able to get out but was back to the hell-hole as an amputee. This was the story of loss, healing and young love.

The romance was slow-burn, something I would choose over insta-love at any given day. I loved how Skylar and Josh complement each other, how their characters manage to navigate through the ins and outs of their hard life. How they are able to get by and deal with their own respective demons. The push and pull that is their love story, was definitely not lost on me, I blurted out loud at one point how they should just fall in love already, I was the one being frustrated how they manage to make the infamous one-step-forward-two-steps-back dance, but despite this frustration, I was glued to my seat reading as much as I can before the world borrows me to do the most mundane stuff, like you know, sleeping and eating. I finished it in two days, that’s saying a lot since I haven’t finished a book in a long while for such short period of time. It only proves how good this book was. And though the story line isn’t as original, I’m still giving it the full 5 stars. It was that good for me, it made me ugly-cry – something I haven’t done in a long while and ultimately this book helped me forget the complexities of my reality – it was indeed that safe haven amidst this chaotic world. So yep, it definitely deserved my five-star rating.

What I loved most about I’ll Meet You There is its quality of sincerity. How the characters felt real as if they were just ordinary people you could meet in your lifetime. I loved how flawed they are too, especially Josh. He was just this shell of a man he used to be because of what happened to him in Afghanistan. What transpired was a real depiction and sometimes too raw and honest description of how war can fck a person up. And it was painted in such captivating yet angsty light. Then we have Skylar Evans, who deals with her own demons. I liked her character, how sometimes she has this no-nonsense approach in life and sometimes she’s too calculated or guarded. I loved how they ease into each other’s lives. I loved how their love story was well-played out, and was not rushed at all. It progressed just right, and when they finally admitted to themselves what they truly feel for each other it was beautiful. I love that in a book, it’s power to suck you into the story and you just willingly immerse yourself into it. And though the ending was somewhat open-ended, I love that it gives room for readers to imagine more, it does not limit itself, it gives power to the readers to make out something more out of the story.  This book now has a special place in my heart. Highly recommend!

 

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“It gave me hope: if you could make a beautiful piece of art from discarded newspapers and old matchbooks, then it meant that everything had potential. And maybe people were like collages–no matter how broken or useless we felt, we were an essential part of the whole. We mattered.”
― Heather DemetriosI’ll Meet You There

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Circe by Madeline Miller | Book Review

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In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Publisher: Lee Bourdreux

Date of Publication: April 10, 2018

Date Read: April 21, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction

Number of Pages: 400 pages

Source: Book Of the Month (April Selection) Get your copy here.

 

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YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH GREEK MYTHOLOGY HARDER THAN EVER!

As much as I want to prolong the reading experience and the sheer delight that goes with it, I couldn’t. I have come to the inevitable end – and what an epic book this was. Circe rekindled my love for Greek mythology. It has been a long time since I last encountered Greek Mythology stories, reading Circe was the fire that ignited what seemed to be a dormant love I have for it. Now all I crave is to read anything Greek Mythology. I have not read Song of Achilles also by Madeline Miller, I was told it was fine to read Circe even without reading Song of Achilles – and I think I managed well. There are bits and pieces about what happened to Achilles, but it is already a known fact to anyone who is familiar with Greek Mythology, so it’s still all good. Circe easily became a favorite book of 2018.

Now let’s go to the story. Circe is a greek god I knew next to nothing about, reading it was a mixture of excitement and of curiosity. Circe is made of layers and layers of beautiful stories, which can be a bit overwhelming yes, but everything was encapsulated in such a flawless manner. You will get a lot of backgrounds for every character mentioned and their relation to the book in its entirety. This made the book even more appealing. We are taken into this trip down the history of Greek gods, what they are, what they are capable of doing, their roles and weaknesses. Reading Circe is getting more out of a 400 page book, it was so condensed, you have to give your undivided attention to fully appreciate everything. And once you already immersed yourself in it, you’ll notice how everything becomes a distant sound, how you entirely space out completely oblivious of the world around you. That’s one thing a good book could give you, and Circe gave so much more than that.

Circe was an interesting character, a character presented in raw light, a character that was believable. She was nothing but typical. Circe was a league entirely her own. She didn’t give herself the credit that is due her, yet she continues to do commendable things one after another. She was the kind of character you’ll root for, banking on her belief and the goodness of her heart. There are countless of times that her character was put to test, yet without fail she came out of each struggle more resilient and wiser. How she dealt with each circumstance truly made her character stand out. There was this sense of redemption with each time she triumphs even over small stuff, proving everyone wrong. Her character was not liked by almost everyone, for shallowest of reasons or by merely the way she looked, but these things didn’t faze her, if for anything she used all this to fuel her, to keep her going, to claim what is rightfully hers and to defend herself with the power she was blessed with. The story spanned from her early childhood up to hundreds and hundreds of years. Through all this, her character developed so much. You start to be attached to her and the stories transpiring with each milestone. You will learn how she never backed down on anything, how she will firmly stand on what she believed in.

Circe was a character driven type of novel, something I don’t usually lean towards but with this book I made an exception. It was well researched and very well-executed. There was hardly a dull moment in the book. I breezed through it like it was the only thing I am supposed to do. I stopped participating in life for a moment and just completely immersed myself in the story. At first I had inhibitions in reading Circe, you see I have not read The Song of Achilles. In my mind I have this expectation that I would have a hard time easing my way into the story, I feared that it would be difficult to read, but I am amazed by how much the author made the book so easily digestible and not intimidating at all, all things considered I guess that’s what drew me in the most. Most of the time, I shy away from historical fiction genre, fearing that it wouldn’t be able to hold my attention just like other genres I am comfortable reading, but Circe proved me wrong. It was easy to read yet you wouldn’t miss how beautifully written it was – only a few books can do that, and Circe managed to do it really well. And oh, I loved how it ended! I highly recommend!

 

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“I had no right to claim him, I know it. But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another  soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”
― Madeline MillerCirce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman | Book Review

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Andre Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. It is an instant classic and one of the great love stories of our time.

Date Published: January 23, 2007

Publisher: Picador

Date Read: March 2017

Genre: Fiction/LGBT

No. of Pages: 248 pages

Setting: Italy

Get your copy here: 

 

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Unapologetically honest, unabashedly deviant.

Call Me By Your Name has been all over social media and Hollywood news for quite some time before I gave in to the hype and read it, add the fact that there no single soul I came across with that hated the book, or the movie for that matter. I willingly took in the plunge and immerse myself in the depths of the novel, and boy I didn’t even want to resurface. I was so engrossed by it, I didn’t want it to end. Elio and Oliver’s story is not quite the conventional one, nor is it something we are accustomed to seeing – but what captivated me more was how the author go about the book – the subtleties and undertones, the silence yet impactful approach really won me over.

Writing style is so beautiful I could marry it

It is undeniable that the writing style will ensnare any reader just by reading the first paragraph. The use of flowery words, may be too much for others but it was just perfect for me, perfectly matches the character of Elio – our narrator. I adored how he describes what he feels in such an elaborate manner that I could very well feel the overwhelming emotion stirring up inside him. It was so lyrical, raw and vivid. I love how each sentence was formulated in such a beautiful way that you wouldn’t miss how much effort the author has put into this masterpiece. Reading this book made other book seem mediocre, I don’t know if it’s just the books I come across with, but every book that I’ve read after Call Me By Your Name seem to fall short. I had to take a break from reading or else nothing can ever comes close to this masterpiece.

Unconventional Story

The story isn’t something we are accustomed to reading, despite the many books on LGBT topic, it still feels that we need more of it. Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful story on the discovery of sexual orientation and sexual preference, the inevitable confusion of the people involved and how were they able to reconcile with themselves. It was relevant and painted in such a beautiful light. You feel with the characters like it is second nature.

Real Characters

This book has characters that are relatable, though at varied extent. Elio for an instance is tinged with immaturity and indecisiveness but you will understand that this is what the story requires, to present the characters in their rawest and truest form just like any people you will ever come across with.

And Oliver, his character has this depth to it that you wouldn’t get at first, but as the story goes on you will know why he had to act at a certain way, always being careful of his words and actions. How he had to suppress what he truly feels – just to conform to what the society dictates, to what he thought was in propriety with the norm. It was sad that they had to hide who they truly are, sad that it still happens and society is not as accepting as we would want to hope it to be.

Elio’s father was my ultimate favorite. Especially that part when he was telling Elio that what he had with Oliver was special, I think that’s the part where I cried the hardest. It was heartbreaking as it was touching.

Unapologetically honest, unabashedly deviant

As I have said, Call Me By Your Name isn’t the typical fiction we come across on a daily basis, it is a rare gem. It is unapologetic in its pursuit to present a story that is honest and raw, unabashedly deviant – holding no reservations whatsoever. The readers are taken into this journey of self-discovery and acceptance, of heartbreak and mending, of missed connections and once and a lifetime chances. There is this beauty in this book that every word would fall short, as no exact definition could give it justice. The ending broke me, my tear ducts worked double and I let it – just so I could wash away that ache taking refuge at my chest. *Insert Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens on loop for all eternity*

 

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In your place, if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.

– Andre Aciman; Call Me By Your Name

 

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