[778]: Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton

Hollow Kingdom follows the story of a world that succumb to the zombie apocalypse. Told through the eyes of a pet crow, Shit Turd walks us through a world suddenly devoid of ‘mofos’ — humans, in other terms. Ever loyal to his master, ST tried his best to cure Big Jim from his zombification. But when all else failed, he had no choice but to leave the only home he’s ever known to try and make sense of what became of the world. Accompanied by Dennis, Big Jim’s bloodhound and ST’s only remaining friend in the world, they set out to rally the rest of the animal kingdom and salvage what was left.

Part horror-part dark comedy, Hollow Kingdom was largely an homage to the humanity’s penchant for destruction. And while it was not said that the cause was a virus created in a lab, I think that the author aims to show us that Mother Nature is more than capable of destroying those who was determined to destroy her.

The use of the animals’ points of view was brilliant itself. Because at the end of the world, the only living things that will remain are those of the floras and faunas variety. If you’ve read Anne Bishop’s The Other series, you will have a sense of the kind of perspective you can expect. There is a detachment and an uncanny amount of lack of emotional range. Astute, honest, candid, and somehow humourous. But that only changes as soon as the animals speak of their human families. I especially ached for ST. He was heartbroken as he witnessed the slow demise of Big Jim, his owner. He was trained as a house pet from the very beginning and had considered him as his best friend.

ST is a sentient crow, and because he saddled the worlds of humans and the animal kingdom, he felt the enormous responsibility to find a cure — or an explanation at the very least.

I enjoyed this book. It was ingenious and heartwarmingly funny. And despite the horror of waking up in a wasted world, Ms. Buxton was able to show the beauty in its haggardness.

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October Wrap-up

Hi, everyone. Sorry this is a bit late. I’m still playing catch up at work. Christmas is coming so it’s going to be even busier from here on out. I managed to catch up on Bloglovin’ last week, but I’m a week behind again. Don’t worry, today is catch up day as I’m taking a rest day from the gym. I might go for a walk later, though.

So just to give you a bit of a rewind for October, I had an amazing reading month again. I read 42 books — physical, ebooks, and audiobooks combined. As of this writing, I’m 2 books away from my all-time goal of 2,000 books. In the meantime, I’ve once again increased my Goodreads goal to 230. I started off at 120, to 214 to 230. I’m currently at 218 and will probably reach 300 before the year is out at this pace. Whew.

This month, I watched a Netflix documentary about Bill Gates and found out that he reads at a pace of 150 pages per hour. So I timed myself while I was reading The Lightning Thief and figured out that I can read 100 pages per hour. Granted, Mr. Gates probably read mostly non-fiction books so his choices carry more weight. Regardless, I now at least know, that if I really set my mind to it, I can finish a book or two a day depending on page count.

I’ve been using my library more and more, and have been discovering some favourite reads from my borrows:

  • Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
  • How Not to Ask a Boy to Prom by SJ Goslee
  • Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez
  • The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
  • Birthday by Meredith Russo
  • Savage Appetites by Rachel Monroe

These are all 5-star reads, except for How Not to Ask a Boy, and honestly can’t pick which one was the best read. I think if the category is the most enlightening, I would pick Invisible Women. The cutest would be How Not To Ask A Boy To Prom; the most adventure packed would be The Grace Year; the most educational would be a toss up between Savage Appetites and Patron Saints of Nothing, and Birthday would be because it was a great read.

I’ve read a couple of absolutely disappointing reads as well:

  • Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva 1/5 Stars
  • A Date with Darcy by Tiffany Schmidt 1/5 Stars

I already talked about Hold My Hand previously and how sad I was that what was once a favourite book has been ruined completely by this sequel. A Date with Darcy was supposed to be a Pride & Prejudice retelling but apparently, Elizabeth Bennett was a boy-crazy fiend in this alternate universe. Hard pass.

I re-read some books in October:

  • Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta 5/5 Stars
  • Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta 5/5 Stars
  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta 5/5 Stars
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor 4/5 Stars

I honestly had an outstanding reading month not only for the amount of books I read but for the number of books I enjoyed and loved. America’s Reluctant Prince and Inside Out are non-fics that I will visit and revisit for years to come.

I’m not going to bother to list the rest of the books that I read, you can check them out here: This post has gone on way too long as it is. Lol.

I hope you’re having a great start to November so far. I’m super excited to finally reach my goals, hopefully this week. 🙂

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Thrillers I Read in October

At the beginning of the month, I set out to read some thrillers in time for Halloween. Unfortunately, I didn’t read as much as I’d hoped. I was only able to read three of them to my disappointment. Originally, I’d planned to peruse my unread shelves for thriller reads but the month got away from me.

The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby, and Kevin Moffett reads like a mix of World War Z and The Children of Men. But while World War Z was written in a mixed media form, The Silent History was written in two parts: one as testimonials, and the second part as the lives of the silent children progresses into adulthood. It’s an ambitious undertaking in such a way that it was written to be read with the accompaniment of an app. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to for it, nor the patience. I’m sure the experience would’ve been fantastic, but the story, unfortunately, isn’t interesting enough for me to be curious.

I spoke about The Lovecraft Compendium on my inaugural #fridayreads. While it was highly imaginative for its time, I’m not a Sci-fi/Horror fan. As well, the language left a lot to be desired. It was an arduous read, to be frank.

Savage Appetites by Rachel Monroe. I don’t even know if this is considered as thriller. It’s a non-fiction work about women’s obsession with true crime novels. The author aims to dissect all the whys and hows women, in large are aficionados of the genre. I consider it as thriller as she included some history of some gruesome killings. Least of all was Sharon Tate’s murder. As well, a woman whose life-long work included creating a series of dioramas of bloody crimes that were, though miniature in sizes, were true to form.

What about you? Did you manage to read some thrillers this month?

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[777]: America’s Reluctant Prince by Steven M. Gillon

The summer of 1999 was the first time I’ve become aware of the impact the Kennedys have in America and the world as a whole. Tragically, it was because John perished in the sea with his wife, Carolyn and her sister, Lauren.

America’s Reluctant Price brought that feeling of loss back to the surface all over again. At the time, it felt like an incredible weight sat on my chest. And it was because of a squandered opportunity to know a great person when they were still alive. The loss felt greater somehow. It was like losing a person before you even get to know them. It left me feeling hollow.

Before I read this book, I can count on one hand all the things I know about John F. Kennedy, Jr:

  • He was a Kennedy.
  • He lived a charmed life.
  • He was handsome and magnetic.
  • He would’ve made his parents proud.
  • Had he lived, we would’ve perhaps change the course of America’s political landscape and made a great impact on the world.

But with every page, this book offered an insight that was every bit shocking, tragic, and beautiful at the same time.

John’s life was far from charmed. He was a mediocre student who barely scraped by. He was surrounded by people who were hypnotized by his presence and his name. Most of the time, he didn’t know who was real. Posthumously, he still fascinated the world.

But here, we see the real truth behind the handsome face — behind the charmed life. The truth was, he was burdened by the legacy of his name. Constantly afraid that he would never be good enough. I suppose it would be akin to having Michael Jordan as your father. That no matter what you do in life, the legacy will follow you around, and you will never measure up.

He was a devoted son who also did his best to be a good husband. but Carolyn could not cope with the same burden that John carried. Hounded by the paparazzi, she became a recluse. She ended up hating being married to someone whose birthright was in the same vein as royalty.

The truth is, John’s life was full of tragedy. Starting with his father who was assassinated in front of his mother. And it was almost befitting that his life would end tragically.

Most of the reviewers have commented that there’s nothing new about this biography. That if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. As one of the thousands who will always be in awe of the Kennedys, I will never stop reading about this family. I will forever be thinking of what could’ve been, what kind of life he would’ve led, and how great the world would’ve been had we not lost him.

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On the Night Table [58]

The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz | The Blacksmith Queen by GA Aiken | Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly

Hello!

Man, it feels like forever since I’ve given you guys a reading update. Last week, I meant to at least have a couple of things to post but I didn’t intend to post them in one day! *facepalm* Anyway, things have not quite settle down at work so I’ve been a little behind. Today (Sunday), I decided to just sit down and do a few scheduling.

I started The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz yesterday and have been enjoying it, so I want to finish it this week. I also aim to start The Blacksmith Queen because even if I’m not a fan of fantasy, I have heard some good things, least of all is how funny this book is. I started listening to Open Your Eyes by Paula Day. I’ve got to be honest and say that I don’t know anything about this book. It feels like a suspense/mystery, but I could be wrong. I’ve only read one book by this author in the past and have enjoyed it. So hopefully, I’ll feel the same way about this one.

R E A D L A S T W E E K

I didn’t think it was possible, but I actually read 9 books last week. A couple were re-reads, and a couple are instant favourite reads — for this year, at least.

  • Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta is a re-read. I always have a compunction to read Ms. Marchetta’s books no matter the season. In the summer, I managed to re-read her Lumatere Chronicles at least three times. This one is just as wonderful as I remember.
  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta is the first book to her Lumatere Chronicles – a fantasy that I could read and re-read for a number of times and I will never not cry, nor laugh, nor give it any less than 5 stars. It is so freaking good.
  • Lie With Me by Philippe Benson was a book translated from French by Molly Ringwald. Yes, of the Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Club fame. Unfortunately, this book did not meet my expectations. It was very dry and very minimalist in terms of the story telling.
  • Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva. This book made me so mad. The second book to the One Man Guy duology, Hold My Hand continues the story of Alek and Ethan. I have no idea why Barakiva decided to ruin Alek and Ethan to their fans, but that’s exactly what he did. As much as I like to check back on previous characters, the way the author went about it completely ruined the experience for me. I wish I never read it.
  • Savage Appetites by Rachel Monroe. This book was fantastic. It’s a non-fiction true crime novel about women’s fascination with gruesome, well, crime novels. This was completely fascinating and while I’m not a part of that statistics, it was interesting to see why. She theorizes that it’s a way for us to arm ourselves with knowledge if we do find ourselves in any unfortunate situations where we may become victims.
  • The Grace Year by Kim Liggett was one of my favourite reads this year. At times unsettling, this is the story of a society where girls — at a ripe age of 16 are released into the wild (outskirts) in an attempt to discover their magic powers. The story is a pulse-pounding read most of the time but there were tender moments as well aim to help the readers cope with the disturbing scenarios unfolding before their eyes.
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett. This book has been on my wishlist forever. When I saw it on Book Outlet, I couldn’t miss the chance. This is about a romance between a white pastor’s son and a black teen girl who ended up with a pregnancy out of wedlock. The story spans for years that shows the effect of their decision to have an abortion. I loved this one as well. It shows religion in all its hypocritical glory, the lives of people in small towns, and how a girl’s reputation follows her for years no matter her status in life.
  • Birthday by Meredith Russo. Yet another instant favourite. This is the story of two boys were friends since they were small children. They were born on the same day, and over the years, they were each other’s haven and shoulders they can depend on. At times heartbreaking, Morgan and Eric remained true friends even when Morgan decides to embrace the truth that she was born in the wrong body. I loved this one.
  • Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. Sigh. I unfortunately didn’t quite enjoy Ms. Albertalli’s follow up to Simon vs. The Universe. I found Leah condescending most of the time and her inner lamentations just drove me batty. I did love seeing Simon and Brahms again, though.

I hope you’re all having a great reading month so far. October is coming to a close and before we know it, it’s 2020. God. One more year of the orange terror. Let this nightmare end soon. Lol.

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[776]: My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

“I was both relieved and irritated when Reva showed up, the way you’d feel if someone interrupted you in the middle of suicide.”


I pretty much waited throughout the entirety of the novel for our nameless character to kill herself, to be honest. Not because I wanted her to meet her own doom on her terms, but it’s because she left me feeling like she was always on the precipice of offing herself. On the surface, she didn’t have anything to feel bad about her life: she’s wealthy, beautiful, and a job at an art gallery fresh off university. But she somehow found herself perpetually in the winter of her discontent. (Though, I’m sure saying that a person has no reason to be depressed about is toxic. Not to mention, that statement is counterproductive, completely insensitive and obtuse.)

This book, however, is exactly about that: our character’s self-induced, heavily medicated coma sleep but on her own terms. She wakes up intermittently only for personal hygiene and sustenance. Otherwise, she’s shut herself from the world. By her reasoning, the world has virtually forgotten her anyway. Her parents didn’t have time for her; her only semi-stable relationship has run its course; and her friend, though a constant presence in her life was a bit of a self-involved user. Her therapist can only be relied on for prescription drugs. So at the end of it all, the unsuspecting reader would feel as if they went through the wringer themselves. And I wouldn’t blame them one bit.

I have not read her first book. But based on the reviews, it seems like Ms. Mosfegh has a penchant for subjecting her characters to some pretty unconventional ways to deal with their mental and emotional anguish. The most shocking thing about them is that she makes it work — she’s very convincing. In here, our nameless protagonist has a pretty severe case of self-hate. That regardless of her seemingly blessed fortune, she still found ways to debase her own self. Unfortunately, she doesn’t find happiness at the end of the book. Or even a glimmer of hope that she’ll be happy with herself. The heartbreaking thing of it all is that this book climaxes during 9/11 and thereafter. So while people around the world found it in themselves to be happy about their lot in life, our character seemed unattached. And considering she lost her best friend in World Trade Centre, I didn’t find anything that closely resembles to a spark of life.

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Library Haul

Where I End & Where You Begin by Preston Norton | Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan | The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan | Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva | How (Not) to Ask A Boy to Prom by S.J. Goslee | Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay | Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer | Lie With Me by Philippe Besson

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to postpone buying books until Christmas. And while it hasn’t worked for me before, this time, I found some reinforcements in the form of my library card. I’ve always been intimidated to go to my library. I mean, I’ve borrowed audiobooks, sure. But never physical copies. Well, now I can’t seem to stop. And I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before considering I’ve been hoarding books all my life and never once did I ever consider actually borrowing from the library before deciding to keep them.

I’m in absolute booknerd heaven. Surprisingly enough, I have managed to read four out these books, and have enjoyed them all:

  • Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer 4/5 Stars
  • Lie with Me by Philippe Besson 3/5 Stars
  • How (not) to Ask a Boy to Prom by S.J. Goslee 4/5 Stars
  • Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay 5/5 Stars

Patron Saints of Nothing was an eye-opener. As a Filipino, this book resonated with me more than usual. And while I haven’t lived in the Philippines for 20-something years, I still hear news about my country from time to time. I love how Randy tackled the drug war, extrajudicial killings, and the feeling of being a foreigner in your own country. I think that’s one of the reasons how this book got to me. Because even if I was born there and lived there for half of my life, it felt like I was in an ill-fitting suit. But I’m going to talk about this more once I recover from this book.

That’s my sort of update for now. Work hasn’t died down, so I’m going to try my hardest to check up on your blogs soon!

Thank you for reading, y’all!

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Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 223

Welcome to another edition of Joy Just Can’t Help Herself. *facepalm* This is my latest purchases from Book Outlet. They sure don’t make it easy for weak humans like me, do they? Sigh. Do you ever get that complete and utter happiness when you see a book you’ve been searching for a fraction of a price? Well, that was how I felt when I saw The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. But of course, you can’t just buy one book from Book Outlet, otherwise, you’ll have to pay for shipping and that would be a travesty.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo | The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman | Autumn by Ali Smith | The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst | Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover | Browse: The World of Bookshops | Winter by Ali Smith

I’m looking forward to reading all these, except for Ugly Love because I’ve read that one already. I think I only wanted it because I’m collecting her books. I’m actually pretty glad I decided to do this haul today. It reminded me of how much I want to read these books when I ordered them from Book Outlet.

L A S T W E E K

It was another great reading week, y’all. I read a total of 8 books — which, sounds utterly impossible but I had a day off on Monday so I was able to do some reading. Aside from a couple of 3 -star reads, it’s been a streak of good reads. My favourite is John F. Kennedy’s biography, for sure. Percy Jackson was awesome as well. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series! Here are all the books:

  • Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer 4/5 Stars.
  • Bad Apple by Elle Kennedy 4/5 Stars
  • Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, et. all 4/5 Stars
  • The Life of John F. Kennedy Jr. by Steven M. Gillon 5/5 Stars
  • The Lovecraft Compendium by H.P. Lovecraft 3/5 Stars
  • Color Me In by Natasha Diaz 3/5 StarsThe Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan 5/5 Stars
  • The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai 3/5 Stars

Last week, I picked up a physical book from the library for the first time in years. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was! Lol. I borrowed Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer — which I devoured practically in one sitting. Then on Saturday night, I went and put a bunch of books on hold. I love that I will be able to peruse the books first before I decide to pick up a copy. That is, if the library has them.

So that’s my week. Sorry I’ve been sporadic in commenting. My work week has been hectic and I usually do my commenting when I have some time at work. Let’s hope next week will be a different story.

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[775]: Inside Out by Demi Moore

Demi Moore didn’t pull any punches in her memoir. When she decided to excise her demons, there wasn’t enough holy water left in the world to douse all the bad jujus she unleashed. The book in itself is not a big volume by any standards. At less than 300 pages, she was able to convey a highly emotional, painfully honest confession about her life, loves, failures, addictions, and perseverance.

She was a teen from New Mexico, constantly embroiled in her parents’ dysfunctional relationship. Abusive at times, toxic even. It was painfully clear that she would either follow in her parents’ drugs and alcohol addled footsteps, or she could choose a different path. And while those demons won out for a time, she somehow always found a way out. She was determined to be better. Determined to not make the same mistakes. But fame, money, and freedom always comes at a cost.

Her romantic relationships always start off ideal in their own ways. But what was common was there was always an age gap. Her first real relationship was with a man 12 years her senior (he was 28, she — 16). Her mother sold her for $500 to a man old enough to be her father. But before that, she had her first sexual intercourse with a neighbor with whom she thought was her friend. He was 23, she was 15.

And for a time it may seem like she’s always chasing safety and security that her parents never afforded her. Then she met Bruce Willis with whom she would have 3 daughters. Though it was at the period of her life when she found success in her career, juggling marriage, motherhood, and having a career would prove to be difficult. It was also during those times when she would put more pressure on herself to look a certain way. Punishing her body to levels of exhaustion and hunger. But still she wasn’t satisfied. Even if she was one of the most beautiful people in the world — and still.

She was branded by the media as a diva, one who wanted to get paid more. In the meantime, she was only doing her part to bridge the gap of income inequality in Hollywood. Slowly, she became one of the highest paid actress of her time. But things at home was slowly unravelling. Her’s and Bruce’s split coincided with her mother passing — her mother, with whom she hasn’t spoken to in years. Ironically enough, she’s long decided she will never depend on a man for her happiness due in part because she’d seen what it did to her mother. Unfortunately, her determination to be independent from Bruce lent to their break up.

Then she met Ashton Kutcher — a young actor 15 years her junior. The attraction was instantaneous. He was sweet, loving, kind and very supportive of her career and her family. Subconsciously, she knew she would do anything for him. Until they crossed a line they couldn’t go back from. She tried to learn from her mistake during her marriage with Bruce but it was a one-way codependency that she didn’t know until it was too late.

The only way out is in.

Andy Warhol

The title of Demi’s memoir was taken from painting that Andy Warhol gave Demi personally. And I couldn’t agree more. I think we all need to confront our painful pasts before we could heal and love wholeheartedly. It’s too bad that for most of us, it sometimes takes a lifetime for that realization to come. But for Demi, I think confronting her past was her attempt to eradicate the stigma that has long followed her all her life; and that is that she doesn’t belong, and she doesn’t deserve her successes and her place as one of the most revered actresses in Hollywood, if not the world.

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#fridayreads: The Lovecraft Compendium by H.P. Lovecraft

Lovecraft’s entry to classic literature are stories based on his vivid dreams. But for us, plebeians, they’re most likely the stuff of nightmares. And while I can appreciate how far advanced he was in the Sci-fi/horror genre, this short story is turning out to be way out of my paygrade.

It is, for all intents and purposes, a classic literature. So the writing spoke of the time. It is very difficult to understand at times so much so that I kept finding myself re-wording and re-working sentences to make it more palatable. I am about halfway and the only thing I can glean so far is that it reminds me of every movie, and every book I’ve ever read containing stories of an archaeological dig and discovering a creature that may or may not lead to the entire world’s demise.

What’s your #fridayreads?

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