Scariest Book You've Read?

Friday, October 23, 2015

It's October. It's almost Halloween. It's that time again - that month to read some scary books. I have to admit I am what you can call a chicken when it comes to horror stories. I have such an overactive imagination that it's hard for me to get things out of my mind, especially if those said things are terrifying things. 

Despite that though I love horror because it really challenges me and yes, it's kind of fun to be scared every once in a while. This novel by Stephen King is my favorite horror. It scared me so much and the movie didn't make it any better either. That terrified me as well.
Currently, I'm reading Salem's Lot because so many recommended this to me when I
asked for a horror recommendation. That may or may not be a good idea. What's the scariest book you've read? 

I Am Malala: FIVE stars and nothing less

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

When the Taliban took over the Swat Valley in Pakistan, a girl refused to be silenced. All she wanted to do was to fight for her right to an education. In 2013, she paid the price for her bravery and was shot in the head by a member of a Taliban armed with a pistol. Her future was not promising and nobody expected her to survive. Over time and through countless support globally, she recovered from her injuries, and instead of letting the events silence her, it made her even more motivated. You might be familiar with her through her powerful speech when she took her cause to the halls of the United Nations and when she spoke with powerful leaders around the world. Until today, she continues her efforts to fight for the right for all people to get an education. I Am Malala is the story of this heroic girl, and what a story indeed.

Since I've known about her story before, I knew I was going to appreciate this book. However, there was so much more that I did not know about her. While reading, I found myself not able to put the book down, and in just a few hours, I finished it. From the moment I read the first page, I was immediately captured by Malala's voice. She sounded so relatable to me, as if she was just a friend talking to me about her daily life. But she's not an ordinary person, not like anyone at all. She is Malala, and her story is anything but ordinary. 

Another huge thing for me was how this book opened my eyes. As a person residing in the U.S., we hear about all the things happening abroad through the news and the press coverage. We are informed that way, but there's so much more that we do not know about. It was a shock to me in a way, and it was extremely moving to see it from the point of view of a teenager who actually lived there and has seen it all. Admittedly, I found myself in tears while reading some parts, because it really made me realize how much we take things for granted: being able to walk outside freely without fear, being able to wear whatever we want, read whatever we want, and more. The fact that this is just one story makes me feel sick to think about all the other stories left untold. 

If there's anything else that my review can do for you, I hope it's to encourage you to get the book and read it too. It's Malala's story, but it's also more than that. It's a story of her country, her culture, and her family. Of her relationship with her father. It's a story that shows courage, resilience, and strength. It is inspiring and motivating, and it deserves to be read just like Malala deserves to be heard all around the world. 

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon: Reading for a Cause

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I am so excited that the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is here yet again. It's probably one of my favorite things from the book community. I love the fact that we get to dedicate a whole day to reading, but I especially love how it gives us readers a chance to interact with fellow book lovers.

This time around, I, along with four others (Melissa, Roberta, Jennifer, and Rikke) decided to read for a cause. Together we started a fundraising campaign for Pencils of Promise, a global organization that focuses on providing quality education for all. Their proceeds go directly into building schools in communities, supporting and training teachers, and providing a safe and sanitary place for education.

I ask you now if you are participating in the readathon to donate any amount that you can because every little bit counts.

We also of course are very excited that we have extra "perks" to offer those who donate to the cause. Thanks to our generous sponsors like Out of Print, among others, we are able to host mini giveaways for very cool bookish items. We will make announcements regarding the giveaways later, but in the meantime, enjoy the readathon and please support an organization that could potentially help provide a much-needed quality education for those that do not get the same privilege that we get everyday.

Man Booker Prize Shortlist

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Man Booker Prize is an annual literary award that is given to the year's best original fictional novel, and just this month, the shortlist was officially announced. I was so excited to see that A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara was one of the finalists because so far this year, it's one of my favorite reads.

Aside from the heartwrenching novel by Yanagihara, the others nominated are:

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy

Because of I really loved A Little Life and am rooting for it to win, I wanted to also give the others a chance. I mean, if the book is shortlisted, it probably means it's worth a read, right? So I picked up and am currently reading A Brief History of Seven Killings. This imaginative novel has a plot that is difficult to explain, but it takes true events and twists them to create various perspectives.

If you've read any of these books, let me know what you thought of them!

Reading Two Books At Once: Currently Reading

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I'm reading two books at once. Or at least trying to. It's not the easiest, but I just want to read both so much that I am making an attempt. I borrowed Norwegian Wood from the ebook library and also have Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
I have to admit I am more engaged with Norwegian Wood; there's something gripping about Murakami's writing, which is good because this is my first Murakami. And while I am liking Blood Meridian, maybe I have to be in a certain mood for something as dark as McCarthy's style?

Anyway, do you read multiple books at once? Or are you like me who find it almost impossible to do so?

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee *no spoilers*

Monday, July 20, 2015

The initial thought I had when I read the first few chapters was how much I missed Harper Lee's writing. Her prose is just as beautiful, just as poetic, and just as eloquent as I remembered. She has a way of creating imagery and of putting meaningful messages without trying hard to do so. I also found it incredibly difficult to put it down and yet, I made a decision to take my time with it because I didn't want it to be over so soon. Overall, it was a real treat just being able to devour her words again. 

As I started getting through the book a bit more, like I just mentioned, I found myself in love with the writing. Then I asked myself, "Would I like these characters and story, as well as their developments, if this was not written by Harper Lee? If it was not a sequel of To Kill A Mockingbird? Would I still be invested or would I think 'eeehh it's alright?'"

I am saying this because I think my favorite part of this novel was because it's connected to To Kill A Mockingbird. This brought me back to the settings and characters of the story that I loved. It almost felt like a grand reunion of childhood friends after years of not seeing or hearing from each other. I'd ask myself too; "am I still friends with these people in this reunion or are we united by the memories of our friendship so long ago? Other than that, what else do we have in common?" Comparing it to a reunion made me think about how I love the connection, but if I didn't know anything about its background, I wonder if I would still like the book as much as I do.

That being said, the biggest strength of this book is how it's driven by such well-written characters. They are still realistic and believable, and I loved that this book offered a more complex view of them. In my opinion, they have become more multifaceted in my eyes, and it proved many things to me. First, it really showed how innocent children can be when growing up. As kids, we were protected from many things, and as we got older, we discovered more things about life. It's an inevitable part of maturity and of growing up. Go Set A Watchman did a great job exploring this. 
It also did a great job showing how nobody and nothing can be just black or white. There are gray areas, there are middle grounds, and also common grounds. No one is just a bad person or a good person; everyone has a light and dark side. Ultimately, as people, we are just trying our best to survive everyday despite our flaws and life's challenges. 
This book also showed that there is something to learn and discover everyday, and we must open our minds more. While boldness is an admirable characteristic, we must  not assume we are in the right all the time because the truth is, we're not. What we can do is always hear both sides of every person involved or every story, learn from our mistakes, learn from others, and just try to be better people in our society more and more each day.

Technically speaking, as a sequel of a classic, I feel it is not strong enough to be considered 'complete.' It read more like a scattered draft - a great one at that - but not quite a finished novel. It didn't feel cohesive enough. 
The great thing about books though is that we do not just read them for their literary merit. We read books for different reasons, and for this one, I read it for the experience. It made me feel nostalgic, and it showed me that the best characters to read about (like Atticus and Scout) are the ones who are real, flawed, believable, and true. 
If you are still debating whether or not to read it because you are afraid it will ruin To Kill A Mockingbird, my advice is for you to just push everything aside and read with an open-mind. Read it for what it is, let go of your expectations, and maybe you'd also be able to appreciate it as much as I did too.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Friday, July 17, 2015

Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5 stars

I've been warned that Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro was going to be a sad story, and it definitely lived up to that expectation that was set up for me. It was one of those books that will stay with you long after you're done reading it. It was bleak and atmospheric. Personally, it literally haunted me in my dreams and admittedly affected me the day when I finished it.

I felt this way after reading Burial Rites last year too. It haunted me and stayed with me. It must be the atmosphere behind this that makes this book stick. Combine that with Ishiguro's effortless prose and it's especially difficult not to love it. It never seems as if he is trying so hard to write beautifully too, which is always a plus; he just does.

Overall, I do not think it is for everyone, but I do highly recommend this is you want a unique story with creative settings and characters, paired with gorgeous writing. It's a simple and beautiful book. It is honest and unflinching. As my first book by Ishiguro, this has turned me into his fan.

Best Books So Far In 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

We are a little bit more than halfway through the year already, which is insane to me to be honest. Reading-wise, I'm having quite a great year! I'm on a reading high, and that's the way I like it. I figured I should recognize some of my favorite reads this year so far. Here are the six books I picked.
Add caption
  • Ebook from my Kindle: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    What a heart wrenching book. This one was tough to read, but so worth it. It has some incredibly effective storytelling and effortlessly beautiful prose. It also has some of the more memorable characters I've read in a while.
  • The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
    After reading On the Road, I had to read more Kerouac. I really liked this one and it gave me a new sense for adventures.
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
    Read my review here.
  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    Admittedly I've been working on this one for a few months now, but I only finished it in June. If you are a fan of The Bell Jar and you're intrigued and interested by Plath's life, I definitely recommend this one.
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
    Read my review here.
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
    Read my review here.
What about you? Tell me your favorite reads so far this year.