#amreading 2: Books That Have Gone to the DNF Zone

Hello, everyone! I hope you all are doing well.
Today, I am going to be talking about the books that have gone to the DNF zone.

First and foremost, I am not a kind of reader who easily gives up on a book; once I start reading, I generally strive to stick with it and finish it.

Sadly, however, there have been some books that wound up in the DNF zone and I want to talk a little bit about them and why.

First up, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. 

The Alchemist

I remember picking this up about three and half years ago. Almost everyone around me was reading this book and raving about it back then and I thought I would give it a go and see if I’d like it as much as everyone did.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t quite remember exactly where I left off. But I do remember feeling mentally exhausted and fed up with the litany of misadventures and setbacks the protagonist faces.

My taste in reading was, I assume, quite different from what it is now; I would prefer uplifting, feel-good type of books with happy endings to dark, heavy and thought-provoking books.

Like I mentioned, I just couldn’t stand the mishaps that happen to the protagonist, in particular, when the boy faces what I perceived a life-and-death situation in the middle of a desert (if my memory isn’t cloudy), I was like, “No, I can’t take this any more. This is way too much for me to take. No, I don’t wanna see this boy suffering any more!”
And then I put it down and have never picked up again ever since.

It’s been more than 3 years now and I might as well give this book a second chance now that my taste in books has changed significantly.
THAT SAID, honestly, I’m not inclined to as much. This book might end up staying in the DNF zone. We’ll see about that.

 

Next we have A French Girl in New York by Anna Adams.

A french girl in NY

I picked up this book when Japan Amazon launched the biggest ever sales campaign back in 2013.
An incredible number of titles, even by super-famous authors’, were offered for free only the specific day and everyone I know went into a shopping frenzy.
That was where I got this book for a song; the pretty cover definitely had me smitten.

However, this book failed to grab me – I didn’t get to connect with the heroine at all, I even came to hate the whole plot.
It’s about a French girl in a Cinderella-ish situation, being neglected and condemned to live in the basement of the house – a complete pigsty. One day, she goes on a school trip to Paris or somewhere and gets spotted by a music director or promoter or something and then gets shot to stardom.
My normal self wouldn’t mind this plot at all, but I didn’t like the writing AT ALL. It felt overly sugary and over the top. It even felt cliché and made me cringe. It was definitely not my taste and I put it down.

This book seems to have gleaned a lot of high reviews, so obviously the fault lies with me and other readers seem to enjoy the story.
I’m not even sure if I would pick up this book ever again, but I’m afraid it’s highly-unlikely.

If you have read this book, definitely let me know your thoughts. It might prompt me to pick this up again 🙂

 

The last book that went to the DNF zone is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

The picture of dorian gray

I had been reading this book until yesterday, picking it up right after Lord of the Flies. I was totally in the mood for another Classics and I was super pumped to read this book.

That said, sadly enough, I didn’t get to wrap my head around Lord Henry’s perspective and Dorian’s emotional process. It baffled me and got me stumped.

I’m afraid it was partly because of the writing style. It’s indeed mellifluous and has got some CLASS to it, but I also found it a bit discombabulating and not straight-forward enough, at least for me.

I love the idea of the portrait getting older and uglier reflecting Dorian’s conscience while Dorian himself stays young and beautiful. Trust me, I liked the plot itself, yet the descriptions of Dorian’s perspective and emotional process seemed a bit difficult for me to digest and I eventually gave up, thinking that forcing myself to plug away at this book any further could throw me into a massive reading slump. And I didn’t want that, absolutely NOT.
Thus and thus, this book has gone to the DNF zone.

Like I said, I do adore the plot itself, so I’ll definitely come back to this book after a while after honing my reading skills as well as broading my perspective.

Currently, I’m reading On the Beach by Nevil Shute and I’m liking it so far.
I seriously hope it doesn’t end up in the DNF zone, if it does, I don’t know what to do lol

Anyways, that’s it for today.
Thanks for reading as always, I hope you have a wonderful reading week 😀

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

8016155I have no words to describe this book; simply stunning, incredibly disturbing yet it was such a delight to read.

This book had been on my radar for quite some time and I had been meaning to read it and then I got sent this by my Twitter friend who said she wanted to hear my thoughts on this, so here you go;

I must admit the litany of descriptions of the island made me hold up a little bit. I had to reread the same part over and over in an attempt to visualize what the island looks like and what paths the characters are taking, etc, etc… it got me stumped. That said, the writing is absolutely gorgeous and the plot is magnificent – incredibly dark and heavy, it made me feel sick in the stomach. I cannot say anything but AMAZING.

What I found quite disturbing and jarring was Jack’s transformation from a boy to nothing but a bloodthirsty savage; he is gradually stripped away from his rationality and fair judgement, and gets obsessed with hunting and even becomes capable of a horrific murder – it literally sent chills down my spine. So unnerving, so spine-chilling.

You may find the first half is kind of slow at first but the latter half is definitely a page-turner. I loved how the creepiness begins to crawl into every sentence and each scene and how the descriptions get more and more graphic as the story moves on. The jolt definitely comes in the latter half and it only gets intensified from there.

The cast of characters and the dynamics are just brilliant. In my personal opinion, the main two characters, Ralph and Jack are at the opposites end of the spectrum; Ralph represents rationality and order while Jack savagery and feral instinct and I found it really well done, simply stunning.
The power struggle happens in the latter half is also gripping, too. Despite Ralph’s attempt to bring order to the group and hold everyone together again, the small society crumbles and the assembly ends up a complete flop; Jack starts to gain ground and eventually assumes power – he literally reigns  as an invincible sovereign in the uninhibited island with the charismatic authority. This gradual power transfer is written so perfectly, it’s just glorious and riveting.

The last four chapters may be too graphic and horrific to read; I actually had to put it down so many times and take a breather to calm down. My heart was beating so fast that I thought I could hear my heart was bumping against my rib cage.

Could this really happen to kids, or us were we left to our own devices with no adult supervision or intervention?
Could our mind really be grawed at and overtaken by our own inherit feral instinct?

Such idea like those made me think, really THINK.
I honestly don’t want to admit it, I really want to refuse, but I also know it CAN happen and that’s what I found the most horrendous.

Nevertheless, I can also say that’s where things start to happen and the plot becomes intense and captivating. It’s gory, yes, but it’s like watching a horror movie between your fingers – you cannot stand the goriness but you want to see how things unfold.  That’s what happened to me.

Like I mentioned, I did struggle to grasp the story and took me some time to get into the flow, but I am now glad that I made it to the end.
Since the writing is rather graphic, this is definitely not for the faint of heart, this is not for everyone, but I think this story will stick with me and I’m sure I’ll come back to this at least more than once. I quite enjoyed it.

Rapid Fire Book Tag!

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Hello, everybody! It’s time for another tag.

Although I wasn’t tagged by anybody (quite natural), I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to do this quick and easy tag!
This post is inspired by Jessica Marie 493’s post, so if you haven’t already, please go check that out 🙂

All right then, let’s jump right in!

 

E-books or Physical Books?
Physical books hands down. I used to read mainly on my kindle, but I’ve come to develop a distaste for the blandness which e-books (in my case, Kindle books) exude. The spacing between words seems unnatural and weird at times, and it feels like punctuating the sentence at the wrong place and disturbs my rhythm. And I HATE that.

Paperback or Hardback?
Paperbacks. unless I absolutely HATE the cover, I would pick paperback editions. It’s space-friendly, too 🙂

Online or In-store book shopping?
I do close to 99.99% of book shopping online; being in the middle of nowhere, there’s not a single bookstore that handle foreign books around here. I have no choice.
Plus, I can get the edition I really want online.

Trilogies or series?
Trilogies. Long series seems kind of intimidating…

Heroes or Villains?
Good villains any day. I’m not a picture-perfect-masculine-drop-dead-gorgeous-heroes type of reader. Plus, good villains are what makes stories more engaging and fun to read!

A book you want everyone to read?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.  It’s dark, heavy, haunting but hysterically funny for some reason. Incredibly gripping and I absolutely LOVE it!

Recommend an underrated book.
I’ll skip this question because I have no idea what book is actually underrated…

The Last book you finished?
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I finished reading it the night before yesterday! It was so, so goood!

Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?
A post-it note. I rarely forget to carry around a bookmark with me wherever I go, but I totally forgot the bring one yesterday 😦

Used book, yes or no?
As long as the condition is pretty good, I don’t mind. So the answer will be YES.

Top three favorite genres?
Crime (Psychological) thrillers, YA or adult fantasy (maybe) and Classics!

Borrow or buy?
Buy. Once I find a book interesting, I’ll get hit by a strong urge to OWN it.

Characters or plot?
Maybe plot. As long as the story was well-written and intriguing, I wouldn’t mind the character being unrelatable or weakly drawn.

Long or short book?
Actually both. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but as long as the story is gripping, the length doesn’t matter to me.

Long or short chapters?
Short chapters! It makes it easy to pick up and put down. 

Name the first three books you think of.
Six of Crows, Middlemarch, Kane and Able.

Books that make you laugh or cry?
I adore books that make me laugh and feel happy. But I’m not so into books all about cloying romance and love-triangles.

Our world or fictional worlds?
Fictional worlds Any day. I think it’s so intriguing to see what the life in the 19th Century was like!

Audiobooks: yes or no?
Audiobooks are not for me; I once tried, but once I find the narration annoying, it completely messes up my reading pace and experience. So the answer is no with a capital N.

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?
Always. Even if I found a book interesting and want to read, I wouldn’t pick it up if the cover was ugly or not for my liking.

Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?
Providing that the producers or the script writers don’t mess up the original story and add unnecessary scenes, both will be fine.

Series or standalone?
Preferably standalones. That said, I also love cliff-hangers.

 

Whew! What a blast answering those questions! It’s been so much fun 🙂
If any of you haven’t done this tag already, please give this a try: I will tag anyone who’s willing to try.  If I can do this, so can YOU.

Thanks so much for reading!

Crazy Book Haul Part 2

Hello, all!
Since the books that I mentioned in my Crazy Classic Book Haul have finally arrived, I’m going to do my Crazy Book Haul Part 2 as I promised.
It’s supposed to be my Crazy Classic Book Haul Part 2, but I’ve decided to lump them up with some other books I got in the last couple of weeks.

The books that I got are:

books

(From top left to bottom right)

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
  • Tenth of December by George Saunders
  • The Comforters by Muriel Spark
  • The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  • Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • Middlemarch by George Elliot

 

I remember pre-ordering The Hate U Give at the end of last year. It wasn’t like I had my eye on this book but I happened to bump into this book while I was browsing Amazon and the premise caught my eye. I immediately decided to get this book because I thought it would be important to read books like this given the time and the world we live in.
Right now, I’m on a huge Classic kick so I haven’t gotten around to actually reading this, but hopefully I can read this in the coming months.

The Comforters and The Man Who Loved Children are what I got after watching one of my favorite Booktubers, Mementomori video. He vehemently gushed about how much he loved these books and how, without fail, Muriel Spark has hit his comfort button.
Having heard the premise, I decided to give them a try and am looking forward to find out whether these babies will measure up to my expectations 🙂

Although I haven’t even read his latest novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, that came out two months ago, I was itching to read this short story collection, Tenth of December first.
Reading thick books or full novels does take a lot of time and commitment and that’s the beauty of reading for sure, yet whenever I get busy, I tend to get more inclined to read slim books or novellas that I can fly through in no time and that’s how this book fell into my lap.

As for The Nightwalker, I simply fell in love the synopsis. Crime thrillers involving insomnia and night-walking sounds so intriguing and spine-chilling and I just wanted to read this. I’m pretty certain that I’ll get to this book one of these days.

 

Now, with regards to Classic books that I got… I have no idea what had gotten into me, I simply don’t.
All I can say is that I had gotten bitten by a massive Classic bug and just couldn’t resist to get those pretty Penguin English Library editions.
Most of the books that I got over there are from watching Lucythereader videos. As I mentioned in my previous haul post, I know absolutely NOTHING about the synopsis. I don’t even know if my English skills are good enough to read these books.
I may well hit a huge setback in reading them, which is likely the case as a matter of fact,  but I hope that I get to enjoy them all.

 

That’s it, we’ve made it. Those are the books that I got just within the last couple of weeks.
I’ve completely forgotten how many books I actually bought and am quite surprised at the number.

Have you done a book haul recently? If you have, what kind of books did you get?
Whatever the case, thank you for reading guys and happy reading!

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

29542234One cold morning in 1945, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel to a labyrinthine library of forgotten titles, hidden in the old city of Barcelona. Allowed to choose one book, Daniel pulls out The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. But as Daniel grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. What begins as a case of library curiosity turns into a race to discover the truth about the life and death of Julian Carax, and to save those he left behind…


This book is simply amazing and superb.
I can find hardly any flaws in this. The story line is wonderfully and intricately crafted and it’s so twisty till the very last minute, which makes a perfect Gothic Mystery, I literally devoured this book. I gulped down the last 80 pages in almost one sitting; it goes to show how stunning and riveting this book is.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous; very strong and solid, not a single word is out of place, every single word is there for a reason.  It’s also very descriptive and suspenseful.
I like how the shadow of ‘Lain Coubert’ hangs in Daniel’s life in the first 100 pages or so.
Ever since the first encounter with the limping, faceless man under the name of the character from The Shadow of the Wind, he hovers like a shadow over Daniel’s life, his presence is always felt, wherever Daniel goes and whenever the moment is. It adds a lot of tension and creepiness to the already gripping story and makes it even more enthralling.

The plot is also very intriguing and twisty down to the very last minute of the book.
I personally think this is one of those books that makes you really think. Tugging the hints and the foreshadowing scattered here and there throughout the story, putting two and two together, you try to solve the mystery yourself. At least that’s what happened to me. I did a lot of tabbing and re-reading the paragraph and scene where the specific events and characters first mentioned in the book.
The power of the story and the writing is so strong. Although I have to admit that I felt it a bit dull somewhere in the middle and I reached the point where I almost gave up, but it makes sense; I now think the first half is spent on building up the story and tension that will come to a head in the second half. I am glad that I didn’t give up on that point. The story develops a lot from there and it only gets more intense and gripping.
I don’t remember how many annotations and scribbles that I made, which is a rarity for me.

The characters are all well-fleshed out and feel very realistic. I personally loved Fermin’s character; he’s comedic and funny, however somber and serious the scene was, his presence and remarks always brought a ray of hope and smile. I also loved the despondent yet calm voice of Nuria. She carries incredibly heavy luggage from the past and her life has always been fraught with grief, sorrow and sadness, yet I think that’s what makes her endearing to me. I really love her voice.
Although I found the description of Julian Carax in the latter part a bit over the top, reminiscent of some super-human characters from Marvel comics, but it works perfectly to bring an end both to this grand, epic story and the outstanding unfinished business between Fumero and Julian. It is just amazing how the story beautifully and masterfully wraps up towards the end.

Like I mentioned earlier, there’s not a single piece which is out of place. Every single hint comes together perfectly in the end and the ending is simply glorious.
The way the author describes how each character leads his/her life after all the mysteries solved is purgatorial and delightful. It put a smile on my face.
The undertone of the story is dark and somber but it lightens up in the end which I personally am very happy with.

I myself think this story conveys the message of ‘redemption’ and ‘rebirth’ or ‘re-do.’
Daniel’s urge to reveal the secrets of Julian Carax, the author of ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ ends up messing up almost everyone’s life and hurting them. It even drives a wedge between his long-time friend and himself in its wake and the consequence Daniel brings upon himself was heartbreaking for me; it was so poignant and haunting.

That said, I adore the message what I think Julian wanted to impart to Daniel – ‘live for me‘ – I thought it was so beautiful. It almost made me cry.
This is an incredibly dark, haunting and complex story, but the feeling that I had reading what a significant figure Daniel has become to Julian and how Julian starts to see a hope in Daniel is something I can never express with my words. It’s just inexplicable. It even felt purifying and purgatorial. It’s so, so good.

This book is beyond flawless. I almost gave up in the middle, but I am glad I persevered and kept reading. This now has become one of my favorites.
This is definitely worth your time. I highly recommend reading this.

Surprise Book Haul!

Hello, everybody!
Although it’s been a while since my last post, I have been reading as rigorously as always.
AND, the same goes for book buying.
Today, I thought it’d be a lot of fun to share with you the books that I got yesterday.

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All right, these are the books that my friend sent me yesterday.

From top to bottom:

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Windwitch by Susan Dennard
  • Always by Sarah Jio
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

The three from the bottom are actually what I asked my friend to get for me.
Although I had been curious to try Book Outlet or Thriftbooks where you can get books at much cheaper prices, living in Japan literally ruins the perk; it totally depends on how many books you buy and its total weight, but when I once attempted to buy books from Book Outlet, the delivery fees came to about $17.99 while the total price of the books came to less than 10 dollars.
You know what I mean? It is RIDICULOUS.

So, when my Twitter friend with whom I often do buddy reads and who lives in Guam asked me if there were any books I’d been meaning to get so that she could get them on my behalf at more reasonable prices and then send them to me when she’s back in Japan this April, I literally pounced on the offer.  

Unfortunately, only Truthwitch was available on Book Outlet and I ended up getting other two books from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble,  I think I got Truthwitch almost for a song (if my memory serves me correctly, it only cost like $3 or something for a hardcover. That was incredible). So I was happy 🙂

BUT THEN, as you can see, the package sent from her included THREE MORE BOOKS.
Windwitch, Always and Lord of the Flies. 

I was like, “OMG, she shouldn’t have!!!”  I momentarily lost for words.
Seriously, who would have imagined that she would throw in three more books!?!

Although I insisted that I would pay for them, she flatly refused saying that it’s been a lot of fun talking with me about books and that I don’t need to think about paying her back.

Oh, my gosh, I am so blessed to have such a wonderful friend 😀
Thank you so, so much!! I can’t thank you enough.

Looking at these books makes me so happy 🙂
They all look so pretty and gorgeous. I LOVE all of them.

 

There you have it, this concludes my Surprise Book Haul.

What are the books that you’ve got recently?
Whatever that may be, happy reading!

#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!