[690]: You by Caroline Kepnes

20821614 A look inside the mind of a loveable psycho.


You
by Caroline Kepnes

Ah, I get it now. I get your fascination with Joe Goldberg. For months I’ve avoided reading this because I was scared I would hate the character so much. Admittedly, Joe is morbidly hard to hate. He’s a cunning character who convinces, even the hardened reader the he’s nothing to be scared of. He’s reliable in that respect. Because I was lulled into a state of complacency – even convinced, for a time, that his victims were at fault. How sick is that?

Practically everyone in this book is messed up. They all seem to be on the precipice of madness themselves. I mean, Beck herself admits that she’s sick for the things she did to the men that walks into her life, all the while using her convenient excuse that her sickness stems from her daddy issues. Peach, Nicky, and OMG, even Karen Minty – especially Karen Minty – each one of these characters brought a certain brand of sociapathic tendencies to the table.

What did Joe ever see in Beck? I mean physically, she’s attractive, sure. But after she played Joe a number of times, why couldn’t he move on? Joe’s obsession with Beck confounded me. But after a while, I don’t think reasons matter for someone like Joe. As soon as he set his sights on Beck, it was game over. And Joe is a very meticulous character. He may be lacking in college education, but he was exposed to boundless knowledge through his work at the bookstore. The bookstore was his life, the books his companion. It’s a little disturbing to think that books, coupled with loneliness can lead you to demented thinking (see: Misery by Stephen King). And this couldn’t be truer in Joe’s place. He grew up in the care of a bookstore owner who’s probably a little deranged himself. I wish the readers knew more about him so that we may know what made Joe the person that he was.

Joe more often justifies all the things he’s done to his victims as an act of compassion (like a good sociopath could). His calm mannerisms is disturbing, to say the least. But that’s a true marksman of a psychopath, isn’t it? I love that this novel was set in New York – a city so overpopulated that if one goes missing, no one would be the wiser. I also think that the age of social media played the perfect role as a necessary evil that helped Joe in hiding his crimes. It’s scary how easy it was for him. Made me want to change my passwords to everything.

You know what’s even sicker? I’d hoped he’d get away with it. I’d hoped that he finds a nice girl, move to North Dakota and forget all the things he’s done to his victims. That’s how good he is.

[689]: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

28587957Understanding the difficult racial climate in America.


Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult

I read this over a month ago now and still to this day, I’ve yet to find the right words to convey my every thought and feeling that can perfectly show why this is probably one of the most importatnt book you’ll read given the racial climate in the US. My emotions were only ramped up soon after the elections and news about violence towards Muslims, LGBTQ, and African Americans spread all over the world. And as the normalization of the Nazi movement (otherwise known as Alt-Right) soon becomes apparent, I was filled with equal amount of fear and rage to what this presidential election brought.

This is one of those books that I read with my eyes half wide-open. I was too terrified to see the full picture, but I knew I was giving it a disservice by not paying attention. I couldn’t help myself. The thought that the Nazi movement was making a resurgence scared me. And all the while, I was comforting myself with the thought that I was, after all, only reading a work of fiction. But here we are. And this is now. America has a president-elect that normalized hate, manipulated the unducated, and turned half the country from the truth and the democratic process. He has the support of the KKK and the Alt-Right Nazis. But you won’t hear him enthusiastically disavowing these movements whose creed is based on racial hate. Nope.

Small Great Things came into my life when I didn’t think blatant, in-your-face racism was a possibility. It’s about an Ivy League-educated nurse with 20 years of experience who found herself the ire of a White Supremacist couple. While she was tasked to take care of their newborn son, they ordered the hospital administration that under no circumstances would she be allowed to touch their baby because of the colour of her skin. She’s an African-American woman who worked hard all her life to better herself and to never become a statistics. All that changed when she was forced to make a choice between the order she was given and saving a baby boy’s life.

Jodi Picoult wrote with the best intentions. She wanted a conversation, a perspective, and a challenge for her audience. She does succeed because this book is very timely. Who woud’ve thought that a book that she’s started years ago would come at a time such as these?

I often find myself at a loss for words and somewhat hesitant to comment on how realistic an author’s portrayal was of characters that are people of colour. I’m not an expert so I’m not going to sit her and pretend she was dead-on in immortalizing Ruth, her sister Adisa, and their mother. She went into this armed with research and interviews, sure. But unless I stood in their stead, I wouldn’t know. Unless I’m stupid enough to use a second hand account (which I’m not).

I’ve learned a few truths about racism in this book. I’ve learned that you can be the most educated person in the world, or the most experienced in your craft, but at the end of the day, all that mean squat when confronted with bigots of the world. I learned that there are two kinds of racism: passive racism and active racism and that the difference is  subtlety and your willingness to show the world your hate. This book made me think about all the ways I’ve become a participant – consciously and unconsciously – in the act of racism by simply not saying a word whenever someone makes a joke about another person’s race. This book is probably a great introduction to read if you want to understand the difficult racial climate in America. It paints a disturbing picture, but it’s not a broad stroke.

[688]: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

18774964 A perfect mix of heartwarming and heartbreaking.


A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman

Ove hasn’t found anything to smile about lately. What was once a very regimented man, is now an even more terrifying old man to encounter. He lives by his own strict rules and there’s no swaying him into any grey area. Needless to say, he doesn’t do well with changes, either.

One day, when a family of mixed race moved in beside him, his life was turned upside down. He thinks the husband an incompetent idiot, the kids bothersome, and the woman (of Iraqui descent), a pest. Their chaotic life couldn’t be more different from Ove’s disciplined existence.

Ove is a man of a few words. He doesn’t waste them on perfunctory dialogues – not even carefully thought out ones. He’d rather the world leave him alone so he can live out his days in peace. In truth, he’s just biding his time until he can see his Sonja again. But the entire universe will conspire against him. What follows is a series of event that will give him a reason to stay, a reason to live, and a reason to love again.

What is it about Swedish-translated novels that make me feel all the warm and fuzzies? Ove is the perfect example of a hard man to like but the characters and events of the story somehow soften him to the eyes of the readers. I think it’s because everyone around him forces him to deviate from his normal self. They give him layers that no one knew existed, not even his dead wife or himself. The world sees him as an angry, old coot but deep inside, his upbringing remains the thing that will always make him human. His mom died when he was just a boy but his father made sure he grew up to be a conscientious, kind-hearted man. It also helps that he held his father to the highest esteem so he emulated him all his life. This was better exemplified when on their vacation in Spain, and even though there was a language barrier, he helped the townspeople to the best of his abilities. He went around fixing things and making sure their problems disappear.

If you’ve seen the video for this novel-turned-to-film, you would know that ever since his wife died, he hasn’t found a reason to live. So everyday since making a decision to follow Sonja, he’s been trying to kill himself. Of course, all his attempts end up in the most comical way possible which makes this book sad and funny at the same time. All around him people and circumstances did their best, though, unconsciously, from doing what he’s set out to do. Until he finally admitted defeat by telling his wife that “killing oneself isn’t easy.” At the end of the day, Ove’s big heart was the thing that will give him what he’s been asking for.

Life Lately: Early Onset of Winter Ennui

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Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward | Heartache and Other Natural Shocks by Glenda Leznoff | About Grace by Anthony Doerr | Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican | Last Mile by Katie Ashley | Empire by John Connolly & Jennifer Ridward | Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong | The Brillian Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow | Beastly Bones by William Ritter | Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith | The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton | The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford | Conquest by John Connolly & Jennifer Ridward


Hello.

I’ve been trying to film a video for the last two weeks, but it’s all crap. I think I’m sticking to regular blogging for now until I find the courage to show my face to the world. Anyway, these books are a small part of the haul I got from Book Outlet. And when I “a small part”, I mean I have three more boxes that I still have to show you guys. Like I said, I’ve been a bad, bad girl.

How’s your December so far? Mine is off to a crappy start. On Wednesday, my dad was rushed to the hospital with breathing problems. It turns out, the stents that were put in his right and middle arteries are both 90% narrowed. So he’s going to have his second bypass surgery on Wednesday. My dad is 72 years old and he’s been a smoker since he’s a teenager. Everyday, I’ve waited for such a phonecall from my mom, but I’m never ever going to be ready for when it happens. Needless to say, I’ve been out of sorts this week. He looks like himself when we saw him on Saturday, though, so it’s good to see.

Winter is finally here. White stuff on the ground is here to stay. I hope it’s not going to be a bitterly cold winter, though but I highly doubt it.  I’ve put up my Christmas tree, wrapped most of my presents on Saturday night but I’ve got a few more that I have to buy for. It’s hard to get excited about Christmas nowadays. But honestly, when was the last time you were excited about Christmas?

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This week, I read three books that have been sitting on my TBR for a while now. Thanks to an Audible sale, I was able to finally get them off my shelves. I know there are only two books in the picture, but I can’t seem to find my copy of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. It’s been a good reading week despite all the suckiness that happened this past week.

Well, I think this is as good an update as any. I hope you’ll have a fantastic week!

[687]: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

22822858 A lifetime of self-inflicted cruelty, and abuse suffered in the hands of others.


A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara

This modern day classic was not the easiest novel to read. In fact, the author seemed determined to give her readers the most horrendous time possible while reading her book. I don’t do well with angst; so most of the time, I was taut with tension. Bracing myself for the horrible account of what made Jude, Jude. 

I read somewhere that while she was writing this book, she had a fight with her editor about just how much she’s willing to put her readers through. And I’m not gonna lie, about halfway through the novel, I didn’t think I was going to make it. Jude St. Francis’ life is far from little, as the title would suggest. He might’ve felt like he was insignificant at times, but he was the centre of his family’s and friends’ universe. You’ll never meet a more broken character than Jude. But I’m not going to enumerate all the ways this man has suffered. I don’t want to scare the pants out of you. Besides, I’ve already given you a tidbit into his life with my intro, so I don’t think you need to know more.

Let me tell you this, though: This book is brilliant, amazing, and horrible all at once. It’s the kind that will force you to take breaks because everything is horrific, yet grotesquely beautiful. It does not offer comfort or joy to anyone brave enough to read it. But what it gives you is a sense of satisfaction. Like finishing a long suffering marathon you did not train for. And even though you wanted to quit in the midst of the race, it’s physically impossible. Because it’s too late. Your body is screaming at you to cross that yellow ribbon. In as much as your heart, your soul – everything about you becomes so inevitably invested in the story that the idea of quitting hurts more than not knowing what happens next.

Jude St. Francis only ever known of unhappiness and heartbreak literally all his life. It started when he was abandoned, half-naked, by a dumpster when he was a baby. And in here, the reader would question whether or not he was better off freezing to death. Because his life of torture and abuse began when he was taken in by the “brothers” of a monastery. He eventually escaped, but he was far from saved. Things got bad to worst; so bad that at some point, he wished he could go back to the monsters in that monastery. He was only 14 when the man he thought was his saviour pimped him out. And here is where I stop. I can’t go on rehashing all the terrible things that was done to him or what he’s done to himself. Like I said, I struggled all throughout this novel. But try as I might, I couldn’t stop. And now, I’m exhausted, beaten-up and all cried out.

Blessedly, it does have its moments of joy but the angst far outweigh it all. In as much as he lacked any healthy relationships growing up, he found himself loved during his adulthood. There were his friends from college that lasted decades: Willem who looked after him all his life; JB with whom he had a difficult friendship but was there with him the longest; Malcolm who made sure he has everything he needed in his own way; Andy who knew everything that had happened to him and have cared for his medical needs till the end. The author explored all the nuances and complexities of Jude’s relationships with the people around him. Not all of them were healthy, but it highlighted the kind of character Jude was.

At times, I felt Jude’s stories of abuse seem excessive. So I would step back and take a breather to compose myself; to think of why it was wholly necessary not to gloss over facts. Yanagihara was far from exploitative. She just has this uncanny talent of flaying her characters until they’re inside out. Jude is not the easiest character to like at times. His self-flagellation was excruciating to read. I wanted to yell at him; shake him until he saw sense. I wanted him to love himself as much as he loved Willem or Andy or Harold and Julia. And yet, I also wanted to take him home and watch over him like I’d watch my own child. I know with full clarity that I share the same feelings about Jude amongst those who cared for him. They loved him whole-heartedly, yes. But nobody really understood his propensity for destruction.

 

 

[686]: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

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Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Knofp Canada | October 11th, 2016
Source: Paperback ARC from publisher
Adult Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


When Felix is deposed as artistic director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival by his devious assistant and longtime enemy, his production of The Tempest is canceled and he is heartbroken. Reduced to a life of exile in rural southern Ontario—accompanied only by his fantasy daughter, Miranda, who died twelve years ago—Felix devises a plan for retribution.

Eventually he takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, and is making a modest success of it when an auspicious star places his enemies within his reach. With the help of their own interpretations, digital effects, and the talents of a professional actress and choreographer, the Burgess Correctional Players prepare to video their Tempest. Not surprisingly, they view Caliban as the character with whom they have the most in common. However, Felix has another twist in mind, and his enemies are about to find themselves taking part in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever. But how will Felix deal with his invisible Miranda’s decision to take a part in the play?


This is Margaret Atwood’s interpretation of The Tempest for the Hogarth Shakespeare series. I’ve been trying to keep pace with every instalment and have made it my goal to read all the books. The operative word here is “try”. As in I’ve tried reading Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson but I had a rough time. I had to set it aside, unfortunately. I’ve mentioned it before that the reason why I was excited about this series of books is because it allows plebian readers such as myself to appreciate Shakespeare indirectly. Kinda like osmosis. We all know Shakespeare has his own trademarked language; one that’s hard to interpret. So these books are heaven-sent.

BUT. But. Margaret Atwood’s and Howard Jacobson’s contributions left me floundering. Their writing chops went beyond my comprehension which is so depressingly bad. How am I supposed to elevate my reading and comprehension skills if I can’t follow along with their writing? Atwood and Jacobson are a couple of prolific and award-winning writers. I feel awful for not being able to enjoy their takes on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Merchant of Venice, respectively. Gah.

In any case, Hag-Seed follows the story of Felix Phillips; the aritistic director of a Shakespeare company who suddenly found himself out of a job. He was, for the most part, a difficult person to work for. He’s eccentric, with an unorthodox method of directing a play. When he was unceremoniously relieved of his job, he goes into hiding. He bided his time for 12 years; planning, scheming until he can go back to doing what he loved.

When an opportunity arises in the form of teaching literacy to inmates, he grabbed at the chance and spun it in a way that he can teach and direct at the same time. It was brilliant, really. His chance at revenge to the same production company that wronged him.

I really wanted to like this. Ultimately, and as much as I can appreciate why Atwood is a genius, her writing went over my head. I’m embarrassed to admit that. But I have accumulated a small selection of her books.  She has a mastery of language all on her own – which was a problem of mine with Shakespeare’s work, to begin with. No matter how beautiful her prose is, I’m not the right reader for her books. It also doesn’t help that I’m not familiar with The Tempest. There is something wholly intricate about it that bears studying. Given time, I think I will be able to catch up. Unfortunately, that’s not today, and it’s not this book.

Life Lately: November

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Hey, guys.

How’s it going? This month-end recap is coming to you early.

I had the worst stretch of book buying binges in the last couple of weeks, you guys. Book Outlet, as cheap as their books are, is not a very good place for people like me. One with no self-control whatsoever. As of this writing, three boxes have shown up on my doorstep. I was able to discreetly hide the first box that came from my husband, but not so much for the second box when our post man delivered it straight to his hands. Sigh. It’s out of control. I might have to do this thing they’re doing on YouTube where they cull their collection by donating or selling it online. I’ll show you what I got one day (maybe).

So. November. I had a slow reading month on account of November 8. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then, good for you. I envy you for being spared from knowing what went down. I read 10 books in total. Though I should say I read 11 because A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara clocked in at 800 pages which should really account for two books instead of one. But I digress. I tend to gravitate towards my comfort reads when I’m having a tough time so you can tell I struggled a lot this month since I read 4 Sandra Brown Books. On the night of the election, after I shut off social media and any coverage on TV, I went and re-read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I knew I was going to need reinforcement and that novel, though, it didn’t completely alleviate the depression, at least helped for a bit. So thank you, Sally Thorne.

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(Sorry about the formatting. I have very little patience today. Lol.)

I was relatively absent from blogging this past month because: reasons. I barely wrote any reviews and barely did my rounds. December might be a slow month as well as we head into the Holiday season. But I’m looking forward to the small break during Christmas.

I used my Instagram picture for this post because I want to give you a fair warning that you might see a vlog post here once in a while. I shot my first video yesterday (3 times) but I think I’m going to re-shoot because I look like an awkward spazzing moron. Sigh. So, you know. Get ready.

Thanks for reading!

[685]: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

27189194 One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Stand Alone | Adult Contemporary Romance
Washington Square Press | Paperback, 327 pp.
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.


With incredible trepidation, I finally succumbed to the peer pressure and took this book off my TBR shelf. I was a little wary of the story, to be honest. Going in, I knew that a love triangle was in the offing. Most of you who has recommended this book probably tried to placate us in some way. That the irritation we will feel for that unfortunate relationship dynamic will be temporary, albeit heightened. Well, I’m glad y’all talked me into reading this. If you’ve ever seen someone in tears while vacuuming, then you can imagine the state I was in while listening to the audio book. I cried when one of her loves disappeared. I cried when her other love gave her the freedom to choose. It was very emotional, with a love triangle that I didn’t think I could stomach let alone appreciate.

I get it now. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes with incredible introspective into relationships. And this after only reading one book. It wasn’t just about the delicate relationships between three people who found themselves in a precarious situation. One that could spell heartbreak for a lot of people involved. She also wrote about a family with realistic dynamics. Readers will see the ever changing kinship between sisters; one that started out as fragile as sibling relationships go but would eventually strengthened with the passing of time. In this book, family is everything. Emma’s family was there to help her pick up the pieces when her husband disappeared; and they were there when her fiance decided to give her time and space.

As for the dreaded love triangle, I say hike up your skirts and just dive into it. It will hurt for a bit but the ending will be nothing short of a joyous reward.

Feed My Reader

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I need some good romance recommendations, y’all. Since my Kindle came back to life, I’ve managed to read a bunch of really good romance novels. I’ve particularly enjoyed Vi Keeland’s and Penelope Ward’s collaboration. But ever since then, the rest of the books that I’ve downloaded wasn’t really floating my boat. So I’m wondering if you can recommend something good and easy.

I’ve taken to re-reading the books that I’ve recently downloaded which sucks because I’m wasting valuable reading time. So I’m wondering if you’d recommend something good for me?

Tropes  I Like

  • Once Again, with Feelings. I suppose this is better known as second-chance romance; where one of the characters left abruptly (or not) for whatever reasons, then come back. They realize that whatever they’re searching for somewhere else was right where they were all along.
  • I Hate You but I’m not Going to Kick You Off My Bed. Ah when characters realize the hate they feel for another is directly proportionate to how much they want to sleep them. Sometimes, these characters will go through a self-hating spell that tend to get annoying. But hey, the sexy times tend to be hot when tempers are a part of the equation.
  • One Night Stand = Bun in the Oven. I looove this trope. I know some of you probably hate surprise pregnancies in romance novels but I can’t get enough of them! I love that moment when the dad sees their spawns and recognizes why the face looks familiar.
  • I Want To Take A Ride on Your Harley. Bikers. Yep. They’re cavemen and they’re infuriatingly bossy. But I love reading these books even though the feminist in me wilts every time I say that out loud.
  • I’m Julia Roberts to Your Richard Gere. Billionaires, man. Billionaires. This is one of those instances when I’m embarrassed to admit it, but, hey. We’re friends, right? And my secret is your secret. *winks*
  • Heaving Bossoms and Flowing Locks. Otherwise known as historical romance, yo. Y’all have been all over them lately and I can’t freaking keep up! Give me the bestest you can think of that has a combination of one, two, or three of the above tropes I mentioned. That would be super cool!

So let me know if you have some good recommendations for me because goodness knows I need something to be happy about these days. Sigh. 

Morsels [18]: The Protector and Trust

27860802 The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas
Forever | September 6th, 2016
Paperback, 384 pp.
Source: Bought
Adult Fiction | Romance | Suspense
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


This is one of those many occasions when I let the cover duped me into thinking I’m in for a great read. Bodyguard romances come once in a blue moon that when I see one, I’m instantly chomping at he bits to read it.

Unfortunately, The Protector was a disappointing read. The plot was a slog and the romance was lacklustre. Aside from the attractiveness of the two characters, there wasn’t much there – no chemistry to speak of or any personality developments to make it worth my while. The writing was passable, if a little plebian. It tried so hard to create a sexual tension but I saw through the frail attempt.

When you’re able to judge a book midway through and know that there’s nothing else it could offer, you know the pretty cover led you astray again. Don’t get me wrong, I finished it cover to cover and gave it fair chance but when you can’t even pretend to care about the characters in the slightest bit, you know you’re beating a dead horse.

Don’t expect too much.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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Goodreads Summary
Trust by Jana Aston
Series: Wrong, #3 | Kindle Edition
Self Published | November 8th, 3016
Source: Bought
Adult Fiction | Romance
Rating 4 out of 5 Stars


I have read the first two books from this series and skipped the litte novella in between. I will probably read that at some point, but I found this book while browsing through Amazon a couple of days ago and couldn’t resist. Wrong series is a lot of fun. It’s a funny, no-holds barred sexy read. I was looking forward to reading Chloe’s story because she’s one of those awkward women I love reading about. The idea that we might kindred spirits occur to me in more ways than one.

Anyway, this is her story and how she kept finding herself in awkward, humorous situations in the most unintentional way. She’s ridiculous sometimes which makes her all the more adorable! She has a thing for federal agents in suits. Enter Boyd Gallagher, Sophie’s half brother. In as much as the book above left me feeling cold, Trust by Jana Aston left me hot and bothered. Chloe and Boyd has a natural chemistry that’s very convincing.

My only complaint is that for a full lenght novel, this sure feels very short. Regardless, this was a solid romance meant to whisk you away from the miseries of your day.