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

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

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

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

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

Publication Date: June 2019

Date Read: June 2019

Publisher: Kokila

No. of Pages: 318

Setting: Manila, Philippines

Genre: YA Contemporary

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

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

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

Relevant and very timely. 

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

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

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

Few inaccuracies and inconsistencies. 

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

The message the book is trying to convey.

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

 

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

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

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

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren | ARC Review

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Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

Date of Publication: May 14, 2019

Date Read: May 11, 2019

No. of Pages:432 pages

Setting: Maui, Hawaii

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Get Your Copy Here: Amazon | Book Depository

 

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Reading this book felt like a wonderful vacation!

First of all let’s just give a moment of silence to appreciate the beauty of this cover! Nothing screams like the perfect summer read than The Unhoneymooners!

The Unhoneymooners is one of the best romcom books I’ve read! It deserves all the hype it is getting. The duo Christina Lauren never disappoints! It has everything I want in a book – haters to lovers trope, palpable sexual tension, laugh out loud conversations and so much more. I could go on forever. This book is the perfect escape, it makes you want to pack all your bags and book a trip to Maui, Hawaii.

We have Olive Torres who went to the honeymoon in her sister’s stead with no less than her archnemesis – Ethan Thomas, who happened to be the best man at her twin sister’s wedding. It sure is a great premise and what is even greater was it was executed well. This book is such a pure delight to read, not only it has moments that would make you snort the loudest in public but also it has depth too. I love that the characters are very distinct. The authors had the power to write characters that feels like someone you actually know, making the reading experience more worthwhile. And that is what I love about their books, the main characters like Olive (or Hazel from Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating) are so distinct, not the generic type one encounters all the time in romance books. You can very well tell them apart, and they give out certain impacts making you remember each story fondly. I really commend the character development, it was something out of the ordinary. Can I just also say how much I love the family dynamics here! Kind of reminded me of my family too!

The Unhoneymooners is quite addictive, just impossible to put it down. And did I mention I love the humor in this one? It was so beautifully crafted, reading it felt like a true vacation. What I also love about this book is that conflict towards the end, how you thought everything is as smooth-sailing as one it implies it to be, then bam! Loved that it wasn’t just some shallow conflict just for shock value, it was what the book needed to give more texture to it and to make it everything but cliche. By the end my cheeks hurt from smiling a little too much. Gahhhh I just love Olive and Ethan okay?? If you are looking for a fun and light read make it your life’s mission to read this one and all other books by these amazing authors!

 

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang |Book Review

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

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

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

Date Published: May 07, 2019

Date Read: May 08, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

Setting: San Francisco, California

No. of Pages: 320

Genre: Contemporary Romance

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

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

Asian Representation

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

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

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

Autism Spectrum

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

Sweet, Cute and oh so Sexy!

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

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

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

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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata | Book Review

 

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

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

Date Published: June 27, 2018

Publisher: Portobello Books

Date Read: March 2019

No. of Pages: 167

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Japanese Literature

Setting: Japan

Get your  copy here: Amazon | Book Depository

 

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Japanese counterpart of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Entertainment Weekly’s #1 Book of 2018 

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

The New York Times bestseller.

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

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

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

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

Date Published: July 10, 2018

Date Read: January 2019

Publisher: Penguin Press

No. of Pages: 368 pages

Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Psycological Fiction

Setting: New York

Get Your Copy: Amazon | Book Depository

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

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

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

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

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

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

― Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation

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