#amreading 1: Classics!

As I gushed in my Classic Book Haul post, I’m so into Classics right now.

I haven’t written a post yet, but I did read two Classics last week;

  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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Fahrenheit 451

Man, I can’t tell you enough how much I loved them both!

To be perfectly honest, both of them threw me off a little bit; in particular, I had a hard time following rather cryptic discourse between Beatty and Montag in Fahrenheit 451.
Everything Beatty says in the book sounded like a riddle to me; I didn’t get to see what he was talking about. I even wonder how Montag could be satisfied with Beatty’s answers. They didn’t make any sense to me to be honest –  It seemed that he was just parrying Montag’s questions by making such riddle-like remarks.

That said, I must admit that I found his writing very intense and gorgeous.
His prose is so poetic and lyrical, yet definitely has something that grabbed me. Although I strove so hard to decipher the sentences or paragraphs to see whether it was about what was actually going on or something in Montag’s imagination, I couldn’t put the book down.

I’ve posted a quick review on Goodreads, so if you’re interested, please go check that out 🙂

Now on to Crime and Punishment; Gosh, THAT BOOK!

The first 100 pages or so was really gripping and entertaining, I even sympathized with Raskolnikov and fretted about the devoid of an axe – I was like, “Oh, darn! No axe? What is he going to do?”
At that moment, I couldn’t believe myself for being anxious to get ahold of the important tool for his ‘plan.’  Seriously, what was I thinking?? 
I think it goes to show how superb either the translation done by David McDuff or Dostoyevsky’s writing is. It was really riveting and I really enjoyed reading that part.

I must say that I felt it slowed a bit in the middle (or it may have been a fault on my part),  but from the last few chapters through the ending, I was completely enthralled by the development. In particular, the moment when Raskolnikov is hit by an inexplicable feeling or awe and kneels down and kisses to the ground, it struck me in the feels – I found it incredibly therapeutic and purgatorial. So stunning, so beautiful. I was completely sold.

It is amazing how the tone of the story significantly changes in the epilogue – the undertone of the writing changes DRAMATICALLY changes like a heavy fog finally clears up.
Again, it was just amazing and brilliant.

There are still a lot of things I find I need to work on (the philosophical ideas in particular), and it’s indeed a long story, but I am so glad that I got to the end. I quite enjoyed it.

 

And now, what am I reading now, you might ask?

I’m currently reading Wuthering Heights by  Emily Brontë.  My very first Emily Brontë, believe it or not.

It hadn’t even been on my radar until I watched a video by my favorite BookTuber, but when I saw him brandishing the book (Vintage Classic Edition with a stunning cover), I thought I would like to give it a try.

According to what I’ve heard, it can be a hit and miss; some absolutely adore it and some absolutely hate it.
That said, it won’t do me any harm to give it a go, will it? 😀
Gladly, being on page 85, I’m really liking it. I really hope that I’ll continue to like it till the end!

Oh, I forgot to mention – I’ve recently joined a Goodreads Book Group.
Being a non-native, I may be quite slow at reading, but I hope that I get to read as many books featured in the group as possible and take part in the group activities!
If you’re already a member, do hit me up at Goodreads, it’s going to be so much fun!

All right, that’s about it for now; let me know in the comments what you have been reading.
Thanks for reading as always!

Crazy Classic Book Haul! – Part 1

Heavily influenced by BookTubers’ videos, such as Mementomori and lucythereader, I found myself going on a big Classic book haul…

Honestly, I’ve lost count exactly how many books I got in the last couple of weeks, but I thought I’d share some of them with you guys, so here we go 🙂

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From top left to bottom right:

  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Dune by Frank Herbert
  • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • A Room With a View by E.M. Foster

Now, let me tell you – I have never been a Classics type of reader. I hardly read any Classics or Modern Classics in my entire life.
I have watched the movie adaptations of ‘A Room With a View’ and ‘Clockwork Orange,’ but I have never read the books.
As for William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy, I haven’t even heard of them before… where have I been??! That sounds crazy. I’m even ashamed of myself 😄

However, the BookTubers’ videos that I talked about earlier made me kind of intrigued to branch out my reading taste into the realm of Classics (including Modern Classics). So, in a bid to right this embarrassing situation, I decided to go on a big Classic spree and bought them. I know almost NOTHING about their synopsis though…

I’ve only read Fahrenheit 451 and am still muddling through Crime and Punishment, but I am so excited to read them all. Particularly, I am so pumped to read A Clockwork Orange. The movie left such a big impact on me, giving me a sort of distorted, disorienting feelings, I am really curious to see if the book has the same vibe to it.

Next we have Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and Jane Eyre by  Charlotte Brontë.
Yes, the Brontës.

Brontes

Again, I have never read any of their books even the translated versions, but I am all up for giving them a try because I’ve heard a lot of good things about them!

In my Reading Habits Tag post, I told you that I now can handle maximum two books at once, but speaking from my meager experience with reading Crime and Punishment (you guys surely know how beefy the book is),  I think such tomes should be given my undivided attention. Otherwise, I’d completely forget how the story and dialogues between characters go.

Anyways, this is the part 1 of my crazy Classic book haul!
I’m still expecting the other half of the books to arrive and it’s most likely to take another week or so, I’ll wrap this up here.
I’ll definitely give you an update once my books have arrived!

If you have any recommendations on what Classic books I should try, definitely let me know!
Thanks for reading and I’ll talk to you guys again soon! 😀

The Reading Habits Tag

Books and Tea

Although I have never done a tag nor have I never been tagged before, I thought it would be a lot of fun to do this tag so I decided to give it a go.
Without further ado, here we go 🙂

Questions:

1.  Do you have a certain place at home for reading? 
Yes, I do. I predominantly read on my couch and that’s actually the only place that I have for reading. I sometimes read in bed using Kindle, but reading in bed always, without fail, results in me drifting off to sleep without making much progress.

2.  Bookmark or random piece of paper?
Bookmarks any day. I always make sure that I have a bookmark whenever I carry my book around with me.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
Preferably after a chapter or a paragraph, but basically I can stop reading wherever because life tends to get in the way.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
At night on weekdays, I drink coffee or cocoa to keep me awake. And I often have snacks like finger foods while reading at weekends (especially in the afternoon).

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
At home, never. Even instrumental music can be quite a distraction for me. At cafes or restaurants, it is fine unless I have someone around who keeps talking to me or talking loudly. (Basically, I’m a don’t-mess-with-me-while-reading kind of person.)

6. One book at a time or several at once?
I used to be a one-book-at-a-time kind of reader, but ever since I started buddyreading with my Twitter friend, I’ve learned to have multiple books going at once. But I would say I can only handle two books at the most.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?
Basically, everywhere. I always carry my book around and try to squeeze as much reading as I can into my spare time. So I read in hospital waiting rooms, at work, at beauty salons, literally everywhere.

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?
Silently in my head. But I do read out loud when I feel a bit drowsy because keeping my mouth moving somehow helps to stay awake.

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
Generally speaking, NO. I want the suspense of not knowing anything about the plot, so I don’t read ahead let alone skip pages.
The only exception to this is when I was reading Cress by Marissa Meyer; I was so invested in Thorne’s character thus I just couldn’t resist reading ahead to make sure if he would be OK.
Oh, and I did the same when I was reading ‘Winter’ to make sure Emperor Kai would be safe and sound.
But basically, no. I wouldn’t read ahead.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
What really irks me is the broken spine; I JUST CAN’T STAND HAVING A STRAIGHT LINE RUNNING IN THE SPINE. Absolutely not. I want my books to be in pristine condition. My default posture when reading is holding the spine firmly with my right hand and (gently) placing my left hand to spread it open so as not to break the spine. Some may say I’m almost paranoid, but I just can’t help it.

11. Do you write in your books?
Again, ABSOLUTELY NOT. I want my books to be as beautiful as new and want them to last.
So, I would definitely avoid anything that could damage my books. If I need to, I would write on post-it notes instead.

 

There you have it – it’s been so much fun answering those questions!
I hope now you got to know me a little bit better as a reader, please let me know if you do this tag so that I can read your answers!

Thanks for reading and I’ll talk to you again soon! 😀

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

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My honest opinion when I finished this book was;

“What?! Is this gonna end here like THIS?”

With NO definite denouement, the story ends rather abruptly. It made me feel as though there were another 20 to 30 pages to wrap up this story, but there weren’t.
At first, I found it rather anticlimactic; I was a bit disappointed to say the least.
That said, however, it was because I was so invested in the story. I wanted to know MORE about it, I really, really liked it!

That being said though, I now look back on it and think it was a fitting end considering the underlining theme of this book, The Storyteller, and The story goes on.
I now assume that Jodi Picoult chose not to close the story with a clear-cut ending, she intentionally chose to leave the rest of the story to us readers’ imagination just like Minka did.
In regard to this, I think it’s clever. Some readers may not be in favor of such endings, but I think I could live with it. (Well, of course, I could be completely off the mark, though.)

The writing was very strong yet has got some calm, quiet quality to it. Even during Minka’s retrospective soliloquy reflecting back on her experience in the Auschwitz, her narration felt very calm and collected. It wasn’t at all over-dramatic, but incredibly intense and poignant at times, it literally cut through my heart. It was just brilliant.

As for the story, the subject matter this book deals with is quite heavy; there’s no doubt about that. What struck me the most in Josef’s narration was that how desensitized and numb a person can be under the pretext of orders and code of conduct. Josef seemed to have been a bit red-blooded, but didn’t used to be THAT brutal, but during his time in the Army, he turned himself into a monster who is capable of shooting people in the head for no particular reason, just like squashing insects with his shoes.
This was what sent chills down my spine while I was reading this book.

On a bit more positive note, I loved how Sage and Leo’s paths cross as the story unfolds and how they both develop their affinity toward each other. It’s a fainty, slow-burn type of love and I absolutely adored the budding romance between them.

In addition to that, the relationship between Franz and Minka also tugged at my heartstrings.
I loved how Franz starts to see Minka in a different light, not merely as a prisoner who doesn’t deserve to live, but as a storyteller. I absolutely enjoyed the scenes where he saves her from a predicament and puts her under his supervision, telling her to write the story 10 pages a night and reading it aloud to him. I adored Franz’s gentleness despite being a SS soldier, despite the fact he may have committed unspeakable atrocities, killing numerous people in his wake.

That was all the more reason why it broke my heart when I read what Franz did to Minka.
I was like, “Why, Franz, Why?!”
But I knew the reason; He had to. He had no other option left for him to save her at that point, at his brother’s presence.
And the blank notebook anonymously left to Minka as if to say,
Keep the story going on.
Live as a storyteller.
It literally shattered my heart; my heart felt so constricted. So sad. So poignant. Ugh…

The huge twist in the end completely took me by surprise; I didn’t see it coming at all.
Man, what a twist! What an unexpected turn of events!

Like I said, with no definite end, I wonder what future holds for Sage.
Having read the decision Sage has reached upon Josef’s supplication to aid his death, I’m now really itching to know how the story unfolds for Sage and Leo.

What will happen to THEM?
Will Sage divulge the secret to Leo? And what will happen from now onwards?
How is Sage going to live down what she has done to Josef?

So many question marks swirl around my head.
This, however, might be exactly how the author wanted us readers to be.
Well done, Jodi Picoult. You got me there hands-down. I’m completely sold.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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■Synopsis (from the back cover)

Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it.
Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and first love – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

Hannah’s voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening – and what he discovers changes his life…

Forever.

 

This book didn’t blow me away as much as I hoped it would.
I did enjoy the reading experience and found it a quick read, but it just didn’t completely click with me.

In fact, I’m still indecisive about this book; while I don’t particularly adore this book, I still find this very haunting; it definitely left a vague, yet lasting impression on me.

This may be a kind of book that one may not particularly love yet can’t help thinking about. That’s exactly what’s happening to me, to be honest.

Like I said, this is a quick, engaging read. In each chapter with the number of cassette tapes you’re on – you’ll listen to Hannah narrating her side of the story as to what led her to taking her own life. Personally, I found it pretty voyeuristic.
There are thirteen reasons why she killed herself and are thirteen people on the list to whom the cassette tapes will be passed on.
Which means, each and every one of them will be listening to what each of them on the list had done to Hannah – in detail.
With regard to this, I think it’s very clever and engaging.

As for the writing style, it actually took me a while to get used to.
While the story is basically narrated in the first person -from Clay Jensen’s perspective, since we are supposed to be listening to Hannah’s soliloquy throughout the thirteen cassette tapes, namely thirteen chapters, there’s a constant back and forth between Hannah’s narration and Clay’s inner thoughts; I personally found this pretty distracting and I actually had to do a lot of re-read to figure out which perspective I was on.

I know that I’m digressing and it may be only me who feels this way, but Clay’s teenage angst and wandering around the town not being inclined to go home kind of reminded me of Haulden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.
I don’t know why, but it just did. Please share your thoughts if you felt the same way.

Story-wise, I particularly liked the change that visits Clay’s mind after hearing Hannah’s tapes.
This story tells you what big of an impact you can have on someone else’s life; how your words and deeds can affect others and the ripple effect of your conducts, even though the effect of which is unbeknownst to yourself.

And once you know the truth, that’ll change how you view things and people.

Being blatantly shown what he could have done to save her but he didn’t must have been too much for Clay, trust me – it was so hard to read, I felt for him – but I liked how he changes – or tries to change – after such a revelation.

And he actually puts his determination to action.

That’s enough for me; it’s such a hopeful, rewarding end.

I gave this 3.5 out of 5 stars, but this rating could be changed afterwards (probably in a positive way.)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. This book definitely measures up to the hype and I quite enjoyed reading it.

Despite that, I must note that it took me quite a while to get into the story.
The reasons are:

a)I wasn’t particularly familiar with the Grisha world (I haven’t read the Grisha Trilogy) and,
b)There are just too many characters making an appearance at the early stage in the story and some of them turned out to be minnows who I didn’t necessarily have to keep track of.

What really drained me is b): the number of characters. As I previously mentioned, many of them ended up being of no importance thus I didn’t necessarily have to spend my time and energy in keeping track of.
However, I ended up doing a lot of re-read and skipping ahead to understand who is who and who the character is connected to, which drained a lot of energy out of me.

For those reasons, the first 40 pages, particularly the parley scene was really excruciating and mentally draining to me.
I didn’t find it info-dumpy, it was totally immersive and gripping once I picked up the book and started reading, it was really an exciting read. But once life got in the way and I put aside the book, the mental exhaustion that I had experienced in the first 40 pages actually made me a bit hesitant to pick it up again and I ended up dragging the hesitation the entire time until I finished the book.
Other than that, I really enjoyed reading this book.

Apart from the unfamiliar names and settings that come with the Grisha world, I think the writing is on point, brisk and very easy to get through. It’s also very descriptive and I could easily visualize each scene; some scenes actually made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
I found the plot a bit predictable, particularly what was supposed to be a huge twist in the end, nevertheless, it didn’t make the story any less interesting. I really enjoyed it.

I gather this is a kind of book that you should go blindly knowing the bare minimum about the plot; even a brief mention about the heist seems to be quite spoilary to me. (So I wouldn’t.)

As far as the character goes, my absolute favorite will be Kaz Brekker and Nina. I assume Kaz will be a heartthrob to many, but I absolutely love Nina’s character. She is sexy, gentle and strong and capable. I particularly adore the romance between Matthais and Nina in the end… it made my heart swoon (not as much as it did for Cinder and Kai in The Lunar Chronicles, but it did).
But Nina, oh my gosh, Nina. What have you done?! It was actually one of my favorite scenes in the book. Some may see it as overly dramatic, but I just adore the scene. Love it.

Kaz’s feelings toward someone whose name I won’t divulge here came as a bit of a surprise – I wouldn’t say I didn’t see it coming at all, nonetheless, it was a nice surprise. It actually made me a bit warmed up to Kaz.

The friendship built amongst the crews is also what I really liked about this book.
My favorite goes to the one between Inej and Nina and Jesper and Wylan.
The rest of the crews first disregard Wylan at the earlier stage of the heist, but as the story goes, as they go through a lot of predicaments together, they start to look at Wylan in a different light and think more of him. I liked the change A LOT.

Overall, I think Leigh Bardugo did an amazing job in weaving such an exciting, thrilling story by tactfully entwining each character’s background story with the main one with vital clues and revelations as to, for instance, why Kaz Brekker always wears gloves and things along those lines.
Despite the initial mental exhaustion that I experienced, I found the latter half is such a page-turner, a great read.

Although I’m yet to be ready to dive right into the sequel, ‘Crooked Kingdom,’ and I’ll be most likely to take a bit of a break, I highly recommend picking this up.
It is definitely worth your time and energy. It’s such a rewarding, exciting read. Definitely lived up to my expectations. I’m glad that I finally finished this book.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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I picked up this book because of its hype this book has gleaned from the book community, and most importantly, YA is my jam; I started this book with high expectations.

It’s been nearly four days since I finish this book, but I still haven’t been able to make up my mind when it comes to deciding whether I like this book or not.
Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. This is such a page-turner with a huge, surprising twist in the end. That being said though, when it comes down to the issue of liking it or not, I still don’t know which side I am on. I’m somewhere in the middle.

I gave this book 3 ~ 3.5 out of 5 stars.
As I previously mentioned, I enjoyed reading this; this book made me keep turning pages.
There’s not much of a plot going, it’s just narratives of the ‘Liars’ summers on the island where their grandfather has a great influence on. The Sinclair family is a well-off, distinguished family and they have almost everything and they have the luxury of spending summertime on the island every year.

What I found interesting is the relationship between the ‘Liars,’ Cady, Johnny, Mirren and Gat. They get along really well on the island, yet their relationship never goes beyond the summer; they lose in touch at some time or other and let it fall through the cracks until next summer. I wonder why, but they do and I assume that’s exactly what makes their summers on the island really special.

Another aspect that I found interesting is the crumbling relationship between their mothers. On the surface level, they seem to get along all right, but deep down they’re constantly against each other and currying favor with their father to secure the better family possessions.
The underlying enmity slowly elevates the matters to the point that comes to a head and that eventually drives the ‘Liars’ into taking the matters into their own hands – which leads to the shocking, devastating consequence.

A huge twist in Part 5 literally took me by surprise; It made me hold my breath and cry, ‘Oh my gosh,” I didn’t see it coming at all.

The writing is one of the strongest points in this book, I gather. As the story is basically narrated from Cady’s perspective, everything feels kind of hazy and untrustworthy; I constantly wondered whether to take in everything she says as is or not. I absolutely enjoyed the platonic, beautiful slow-burned love between Cady and Gat, but on the other part of me constantly doubted if it was what was actually happening. I personally think that’s what heightens the sense of suspense and makes this book gripping.

I enjoyed Cady’s narration as well – it’s very lyrical at times and the prose is very beautiful. I also enjoyed reading the short stories presumably written by Cady inserted here and there in the story.
It indirectly insinuates the consequences of her/their actions and reflects her emotions.
It was really well-done.

The ending literally wrecked me. I definitely saw some hope in it, but it was, at the same time, very sad and haunting. Cady has to live on dragging the luggage of what she had done in the ‘Summer Fifteen,’ and how she herself recognizes it just broke me. It was heart-wrenching, yet also beautiful. I lost my words after closing the book.

As I said earlier, I still don’t know whether I adore this book or not. But I definitely have a soft spot for this kind of book.
I can vouch that this is a great summer read, such a page-turner. I recommend you picking this up if you haven’t already.