Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell


1984 (Signet Classics)


‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’

Winston Smith works for the Ministry of truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101 . . .

Nineteen Eighty-Four is George Orwell’s terrifying vision of a totalitarian future in which everything and everyone is slave to a tyrannical regime.

※ The following contains some spoilers.

First and foremost, it was so much fun reading this book; it was a great reading experience and I really enjoyed it. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

The draw and gravity that this book possesses were so strong; this is such an immersive read that I just couldn’t put it down once I picked it up last Friday intending only for a brief skimming.

At first, I was a bit nervous if I’d get to wrap my mind around this dystopian novel. As is the case with reading fantasy books which has got a lot of world settings/ world building , I was not quite sure if I was ready to tackle this dystopian world and policies and everything.
However, it ended up a needless fear; the ideology of the world was easy enough to follow and well spelled out. The more I got to knew about the world, the more captivated I was.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous and magnificent. It was simply enchanting. But I would say what really grabbed me was the ideology of The Party and what coercion and duress – in particular, ‘fear’ – can do to you. I also found it an interesting idea to continuously wage a war to use up the surplus generated from production so as not to raise the general standard of living. So long as the general population, particularly the mass categorized as ‘the proles’ which accounts for 85% of the total population, are left in constant poverty, they wouldn’t conceive any intellectual or independent idea which conflicts The Party’s ideology and policies.
It also struck me that the proles, a class where I’d be most likely to belong to if I were to put in this world, are treated as though they were animals or some kind of mindless disposable machines or expendables. They’re regarded as just a mere labor force, not worthy of education. This aspect disturbed me quite a bit.

The world in which Winston lives is simply unimaginable and bleak; people are put under a constant surveillance with telescreens which can also pick up even the smallest, subtlest hints/noise such as palpitations and neurotic eye movements in the flicker of a moment. They literally and invariably need to watch their deeds and words even in their sleep. History, past, even facts are subject to constant modifications and amendments to make it look like The Party has, and always will be correct and the government itself is in fact in charge of the tasks.
People are also hand-fed all the information that they need to know by the government and nothing else is allowed to enter one’s mind. Once discovered, one’s future is doomed – one will be on the road to vaporization and death at the exact moment one has committed the first-degree crime.

Now, I am not a kind of reader to superimposes or reflects my own world onto this dystopian world which is rigidly regimented with an ironclad system, but I still find it rather disturbing.  In particular, the fear what Winston experienced in Room 101 was just beyond imagination; the description of it literally blew me out of the water. It was spectacularly described and was hard-hitting – you definitely should read it. It was simply fantastic. 

Compared to ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ which I read two months ago and is another highly-acclaimed dystopian novel, I personally think this 1984 hit home for me way closer because of the element of ‘fear’ being described more in detail. It is really descriptive and feels realistic; it almost made me believe something like this could be actually happening in this world I’m living in. I absolutely loved it.

The ending, the very last sentence left me in awe, in a weird sense. I was a bit overwhelmed by the power of brainwash and what the ruling organizations/ powers can do to you. My gosh, I wouldn’t want to go through that!!

This is an amazing, captivating read although there are scenes that I felt a bit redundant somewhere in the latter half.
None the less, this is THE BOOK all readers should pick up at least once in a lifetime.
I will definitely come back to this book. I am certain of it.

The Comforters by Muriel Spark


Caroline Rose is plagued by the tapping of typewriter keys and the strange, detached narration of her every thought and action. Caroline has an unusual problem – she realises she is in a novel. Her fellow characters also seem deluded: Laurence, her former lover, finds diamonds in a loaf of bread – has his elderly grandmother hidden them there? And Baron Stock, her bookseller friend, believes he is on the trail of England’s leading Satanist.

I got this book with my interest sparked by one of my favorites BookTuber, Mementomori Video.
This is my first Muriel Spark and I was kind of curious to see what kind of writing style she has and what this book is about. Most importantly, if I would like this book or not.

To be honest, I still haven’t been able to figure out what exactly was going on in this book.

Let me put it this way – this is a peculiar, yet riveting read. 

Content-wise, I’m still not 100% sure what this book is about. I find it incredibly difficult to even summarize the story. There are way too many things going on and it felt all the plots and bits jumbling up and jumping all over the place, it felt a messy, chaotic read. You may find you’re not sure in what direction the story is going – I felt the same way, too.
However, what I find surprising is that they are all interconnected in a very intricate, meticulous way.  Every single piece of a puzzle thrown out in the story does fall into place beautifully later in the story, but overall, it kind of exudes a mayhem-like vibe.
The more I think about it, the less it feels like a story with one solid plot,too. It feels more like a collage of the characters’ lives, where each character’s thoughts and actions are narrated in ‘Caroline did this,’ ‘Laurence felt this,’ kind of manner.
Weird as it may sound, but that’s how I felt about this story.

My overall feels toward this book may also stem from the author closing the book with a loose end rather than ending with a closure.
There’s no explicit closure particularly to the relationship between Caroline and Laurence, so I still have a lot of unanswered questions hanging in the air – it’s kind of akin to indigestion.

In spite of that, and surprisingly enough, I enjoyed it a ton.

I remember telling you that I am a plot-driven reader and I need a solid, explicit and easy-to-follow plot. I don’t do well at an abstract writing style.
That being said though, I found myself really enjoy reading this, what some may seem as a plot-less novel. I woke up at 6 a.m. today and kept reading the rest of the book almost non-stop. I literally buzzed through the book, it was such a ride.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous and somewhat hypnotic; the paragraphs that describe the detached narrations of Caroline’s thoughts and actions preceded by the tapping sound of a typewriter are just stunning, outstandingly fascinating.
As a reader, you’ll read EXACTLY THE SAME SENTENCE OR PARAGRAPH WHAT YOU’VE JUST READ preceded by the tapping sound of a typewriter and it also comes with THE CHANTING.

Like this:

      She was absorbed by the pressing need to get out of her flat at the earliest possible moment, and as she searched among her clothes she did not even notice, with her customary habit of self-observation, that she had thrown her night-things together anyhow. This frenzied packing operation and the deliberate care she had taken, in spite of her rage, to fold and fit her possessions into place at St Philumena’s less than a day ago failed to register.
      Tap-tick-tap. she did not even notice, with her customary habit of self-observation, that she had thrown her night-things together anyhow. This frenzied packing operation and the deliberate care she had taken, in spite of her rage, to fold and fit her possessions into place at St Philumena’s less than a day ago failed to register. Tap.

Such descriptions literally made my skin crawl; I could felt the full-on creepiness crawl into my head just by reading such sentences.  Man, was it glorious!

The characters are all interesting, too. They are all in a way wrecked and delusional, but l really enjoyed Laurence’s  super-observant nature and the Baron’s phony, superficial  geniality. And don’t forget the sprightly Louisa Jepp – a 76 year-old Laurence’s grandmother who is allegedly involved in diamond smuggling;  an old lady smuggling a diamond??? Come on, what a plot!
It felt that the author looked at all the characters through sarcastic and cynical glasses and drawn them with a healthy dose of humor and a slight waft of sarcasm.
They are all well-fleshed out and I had so much fun to read about them.

I also enjoyed reading the emotional estrangement between Laurence and Caroline.
Since Caroline started hearing the tapping of typewriter in her head, Caroline tries to outwit the invisible phantom by doing the opposite of what the narrator told her, and Laurence starts to feel Caroline drifts apart from him.
Such detailed characterizations and the well-crafted character dynamics are what I found make this book peculiar at a glance yet captivating and riveting.

The bottom line is, as I previously mentioned, I still don’t know whether I got this story right; I think there are still a lot to take in. I definitely need to come back to better grasp the story line.
None the less, I really enjoyed this book. This book definitely won’t be my last Muriel Spark. I’d love to try some more of her books.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote


It was really a hard rating to make and I know this is going to be a very unpopular opinion, but the main title, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ didn’t steal my heart as much.

I gave this book 4 stars – 3.5 for the main title, and 4 stars as a book because the three short stories are so good.

This is my very first Truman Capote; I have never watched the movie adaptation either, so I had absolutely no idea how the story goes and what this book is all about.
I guess that’s what made me a bit hard on this.

First and foremost, I am a reader who is not so strong with atmospheric writing, which kind of exudes a snippet of message and makes the readers figure out what it means rather than explicitly convey what it is about. I’ve always struggled with this type of writing and I found, at least in the beginning, this book falls into the category. It stumped me significantly and gave me a hard time.

I really tried to like this main title, I really did, given how many readers absolutely adore this book. But it was only past 80 pages that this book finally won my heart; after Holly’s (wrong?) arrest for unknowingly working as a liaison for Sally Tomato.
The story finally started sinking in on me and got riveting from there.

I don’t know about you, but my favorite scene is the cat scene on her way to the airport in the end. She once insisted that both the cat and herself are independent, the cat doesn’t belong to her thus it’s got no name, but once shushing the cat away,  the realization strikes her – she realizes that the cat belonged to her. And she fears if the same thing keeps happening for the rest of her life, that she doesn’t recognize something belongs to her until she parts with it.
This is the part where I finally felt I (partially) understood Holly’s character, where she felt real to me. Up until that point, I couldn’t relate to Holly at all. While I admit she’s gorgeous, enigmatic, irresistible, free-minded woman, she also came across very frivolous and unlikable.
But now, finishing this book, I now think that might have been her vulnerability what makes Holly seem that way.

As for the writing, I thought ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ gives off a dream-like vibe throughout. Some things happen in the story did grab my attention and sucked me in, but on the whole, it felt like I was seeing how things unfold through TV screens or even, from a place high way up. They didn’t feel close to me, which I was Okay with though.

Despite such issues that I had , the ending definitely left me stunned. It was glorious. So beautiful. The ending made up all the issues and problems that I had with this story.
It left a warm, fuzzy, somewhat nostalgic feeling.
Now, it may sound weird, but have any of you ever felt, like, your impression and thoughts change as time go by? It’s like, ‘I’m gonna give this book solid 3 stars. It’s kind of Meh for me,’ right after finishing the book but the story gradually grows on you and you start thinking, ‘maybe this book deserves 4 stars, I might kind of like this.’
This is what’s happening to me right now.  (So this post may seem quite contradictory – I’m sorry about this.)

As I said, I first gave this main title 3.5 stars and gave the book 4 stars for the sake of the other three short stories, I liked them better.
However, writing this post and reflecting back on the story, I’ve started to think I may like this main title after all. Funny as it may sound, but it’s true.
Anyways, that’s about it for Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

This book includes other three short stories ‘House of Flowers,’ ‘A Diamond Guitar’ and ‘A Christmas Memory.’
They are all quick, entertaining reads. My favorite definitely goes to ‘A Christmas Memory.’ I liked it so much.

I personally think ‘House of Flowers’ and ‘A Christmas Memory’ have some fairy-tale vibe to them, but when the story starts to take a darker tone in ‘House of Flowers,’ it took me by surprise.
Although they are all really short, they are less than 20 pages each, the story lines are really solid and once again, the writing is very atmospheric (but easy to follow).

To put it in a nutshell, this is a book I’ll most likely to come back.
I did say I didn’t love it at first, but it seems that I ended up liking it a lot.
I think I’ll go watch the movie adaptation first and see which version I like better.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute


On the Beach


It’s been a few days since I finished this book yet I still don’t know how to articulate my thoughts on this book. This book took me by surprise on many levels; I wasn’t expecting that I would be moved and be on the verge of tears by this post-apocalyptic novel. Yet the latter half, particularly the last chapter cannot be read without a poignant, heart-wrenching grief over the recognition “the world is going to end.”
It was such a blow to me.

I wasn’t quite sure where I was standing in the story at the beginning; I didn’t quite understand what was going on in the story, say, the war situation and everything; who started the war and who actually dropped the cobalt bomb – the very culprit of the consequence the people in this story will have to bear – there was a lot to take in and it kind of stumped me in the beginning. As per usual, I had to do a lot of tabbing and taking notes to help myself keep track of the story.

Mind you -there is not much going on in the first half. There are, at times, some hard-hitting moments and heart-wrenching revelations that hint the grim future that awaits the people in the Southern Hemisphere, but I must say what you will find in the first half are just descriptions of the banality of everyday life.  If you expect a frantic, chaotic situation and a lot of panic-induced incidents happening in the story, you might be a bit disappointed because there’s hardly ANY.
That said, the bleak recognition and realization gradually yet steadily creeps in as you get into the latter half and I think that’s where the story gets riveting.
Even at this point, where the Australians try to come to terms with the grim promise of the future – their doomsday – they don’t go panicky nor become reckless.
They just calmly face their fate and keep living their lives as they used to. Some may still find it hard to come to grips with, they just refuse to believe their life is going to end in the next six months, but some do accept their inevitable death without flinching, and they even prepare themselves for ‘the time.’  This is what struck me the hardest.

The writing is generally calm and collected throughout, there are hardly any over-the-top, exaggerated descriptions. Rather, I felt the author chose to put the simple facts without attaching any emotions to them, laying them out throughout the book and letting the readers and the characters take them in.
That’s actually what heightened the poignancy for me. By dedicating the first half to showcasing what their normal life is like, the stark contrast of the hopeless, sobering future is effectively highlighted; as the lethal fallout from the cobalt bomb drifts towards the Southern Hemisphere, the despairing outlook slowly crawls not only into the characters mind but also the readers’ mind and what slim glimmer of hope they have is stubbed out like a cigarette.  I thought it was really well done.

Although I didn’t get to emotionally connect to any of the characters, I enjoyed this story immensely. I think this is definitely plot-driven, not character-driven but I think this will please many readers who usually go to character-driven stories as well because the plot is amazingly well-crafted. I liked it so much.

This book is not your average apocalyptic novel, it’s not like your average hooks-you-on-adrenaline type of book with lots of exciting, thrilling twists. But it will definitely make you THINK about what you would do when you faced the end of your life, on your last day on earth. I highly recommend this.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding


Lord of the Flies

I 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 held me 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.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


The Great Gatsby


As a non-native, this book had always been like an insurmountable mountain to me – a masterpiece decked with beautiful yet somewhat elusive words.

The very first chapter was the most difficult; like a tough nut to crack, the smooth flow of words felt really elusive and abstract, it took me some time to get the hang of his writing style and decipher what the author tried to say.

That said, I must admit that I literally fell in love with the writing. It’s stunningly beautiful and mellifluous, I even thought it was like impressionist’s paintings at times where the story was told not explicitly by solid outlines but by numerous numbers of brushwork. The story was woven and contoured so subtly yet it’s got quite a strong ‘draw’ that captivates the reader. I can’t really put my finger on exactly what it is, but I was enthralled by his outstandingly beautiful writing.

His writing is also very descriptive. The description of almost-out-of-order-parties was just amazing; I could easily visualize how flamboyant and bustling they must have been.

Story-wise, I had neither read this book nor watched the movie so I dove right into this book without knowing anything. As I previously mentioned, the toughest was the very introduction in Chapter 1, but once I powered through it, I was captivated by this enchanting yet poignant story.

Honestly, I didn’t anticipate this turn of events; I sometimes felt it was kind of hazy and ambiguous in a good way, but as I came to understand Gatsby’s personality and his anguish as well as the flame for Daisy that he keeps burning in his mind, I found myself completely reeled in the story and wanting his love for Daisy to come to fruition.

I was really surprised to find how strongly invested I actually was in Gatsby’s character; I wasn’t expecting to be emotionally attached to any of the characters because none of the characters felt realistic nor grounded. They all seemed frivolous and were living in the moment not caring much about where they were heading nor the consequences of their actions.
With the sad outcome that Gatsby faced, I, for the first time, felt the pang of sympathy toward him and I also felt sorry for Nick. The ensuing funeral scenes and the aftermath tugged at my heartstrings. How close Gatsby had become to Nick and what big of an influence Gatsby had had on Nick – that realization was hard-hitting and had a strong hold on my heart.

The last several chapters are simply breathtaking. It’s so atmospheric, poignant yet beautiful like quiet, undulating waves on the surface of water.

I wouldn’t boast that I got to grasp the gist of the story this time. Nevertheless, this story left me enthralled and mesmerized, and I pledge to come back to this book at some point in my life. This is a masterpiece.

And I really adore this book.

Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia Publication Order #2)


I adore this book as much as ‘The Lion,’ probably even more – this grand story evoked a lot of emotions inside me and I just couldn’t process my feelings when I closed the book. The ending wrecked me in a good way; I just couldn’t think of anything else.

This is the second time I’ve picked up this book; the last time when I picked up this one, I gave up on continuing to read for some reason; probably from the lack of my vocabulary at the time.

After about 3 years, I now got to finish this book and – oh, my, I’m so glad that I read it!
Like I said, this book moved me much more than the last one (Lion) did.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish – it is just impeccable! The plot is well-crafted and I personally think the writing and descriptions are much more engaging than ‘The Lion.’
I must say I felt the story in the last one (The Lion) went in a flurry, but with this one, ‘Prince Caspian,’ the plot has a lot more depth to it and the dialogues are quite engaging and amazing. It touches on some political stuff – ugly conspiracies involving the throne and the war to take back the kingdom – I think that’s what makes this story more entertaining and just riveting.

All the characters are so likable and relatable; I particularly liked Reepicheep! Despite being a mouse, he is noble and is truly a knight. His remarks are pregnant with meaning which came as quite a surprise to me.

Just like the last time, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I got to understand the messages and teachings this book carries, but I enjoyed this book immensely for its great story-development. It’s action packed (particularly the combat part with Miraz) ,exciting, and I particularly liked the remark that Peter makes when he starts to doubt if he can pull off defeating the despicable Miraz – it is just poignant!

I was a bit thrown off when I realized how many alterations had been made when it was made into a movie. In addition to Prince Caspian being much older than the book, a love story between Susan and Caspian??  I would have liked the movie to be a faithful reflection of the book. Most of the great dialogues had been cut, many unnecessary scenes had been added,  I must say that I was a bit sorry about that.

I was so sad to know that Peter and Susan wouldn’t be able to come back to the world of Narnia any more because I love them both! They found a place which has a special place in their hearts but the fate has taken it away from them – how sad it is!
When they all come back to the real world from Narnia in the end, the poignant feel washed over me- I almost cried. (seriously)

That said, like I said, I enjoyed this amazing journey from start to finish. I can’t wait to pick up the next book and see what happens next! I’m loving the series so far!