The Entertainer Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for this award by two amazing bloggers, Jay@ThisIsMyTruthNow and Stephanie@Stephanie’s Novel Fiction and the nomination came out of left field. You two will never imagine how taken aback I was and I’m really blessed to receive such recognition – thank you guys once again for even thinking of me 🙂
Both bloggers have simply amazing ENTERTAINING blogs, please go check them out!

The Rules
  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Add these rules to your post.
  • Answer all the questions below.
  • Display the award picture in your post.
  • Nominate 12 other bloggers who are funny, inspiring and most important of all, ENTERTAINING!

 

WHY DID YOU START A BLOG IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Writing something in English has always been a delight for me since my time in junior college and this is probably one of the things that I’m still passionate about.
Although I was content with the solitary act of writing (and keeping it to myself) at first, but I began to think I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings with others as time went by; I began to look for an outlet where I can express myself, my feelings with my own words and share them with people all over the world.
I started blogging a few years ago, but simple blogging never worked out for me; being a person of absolutely no creativity whatsoever, I ran out of topics to blog about shortly and stopped blogging altogether and put it on the back burner for the next couple of years.
It was last summer that I started blogging again here at WordPress; I figured blogging about books could work and voila,  I’m still blogging. It definitely worked and I’m so hapy about that.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK?

Tough question! I generally love (or try to love) all the books that I read in an equal measure and it’s extremely hard to narrow the choice down to only one…
But I would say it’s a toss-up between The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. They are both simply haunting, beautiful books and I’m sure they both will stick with me for a long time.

WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE THE MOST?

I don’t know if it’s because of me being Japanese but I don’t want any form of confrontation in my life; I don’t relish the idea of having to confront others and I’d clam up and let it pass over my head if things would go smoothly if I chose to do so.
Having constructive, forward-looking discussions is totally a different story; I do appreciate having such productive dialogues with others and I think it’s very important to have open discussions to better understand others as well as to get yourself known. But just yelling and lashing out at others for no good reason or just for an outlet of one’s pent-up stress and frustration? NO THANK YOU.  I don’t want any additional stress in my life.
I also don’t appreciate labeling / categorizing others, like assuming what kind of person he/she is (mostly in a negative light) based on a wrong assumption and sticking to it. People do change and evolve. Taking others for granted or looking down on them on a misguided preconception is the last thing I’d want to do unto others. I think it is always important to keep your eyes and mind open and try to look at others in a positive light.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD AT THE MALL?

Another tough question… Living in the middle of nowhere in Japan, there aren’t many shopping malls around here. But if food courts at department stores counts, I would definitely go for french fries. I cannot get enough of them. Or, doughnuts and coffee. That’s a perfect combo for me 🙂

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PAST TIME?

Reading and daydreaming. I could do them like forever…

MY NOMINEES:
  1. JessicaMarie493
  2. Beast Books
  3. TheCleverReader
  4. Beth(Reading Every Night)
  5. MyPaperInfinity
  6. The Mystique Reader
  7. Lisa’s Everyday Life
  8. ReadHeadedBookLover
  9. Book Mojo
  10. JenAcideByBibliophile
  11. Abinotronix
  12. Kristine Kraves Books

 

I apologize if you have been tagged already or I tagged you way too many times lol

Thank you so much once again and I’ll see you again soon!

#WeekendReads & Emojiathon Weekly Wrap-Up #2

Half of the month has already passed; I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but how fast time flies! 

Every Friday, under this hashtag I keep you updated on my weekly reading progress and share with you the books that I’ll be reading over the weekend.

Without further ado, let’s start with my Emojiathon weekly wrap-up.
Since last update, I read:

I got to tick off 3 books on my Emojiathon TBR this week and with two weeks left, I have another 3 to go. It’s been coming along pretty nicely and I’m kind of proud of myself.

This week’s highlight is definitely The Nightwalker, a disorienting yet engaging psychological thriller. The creepy vibe kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time and I really enjoyed this. This one takes the cake.  You can read my thoughts on this book here.

Paige’s Turn was a cute quick read which I think will make a perfect summer read. There’s nothing special that makes this book stand out, the plot and the romance between the two main characters are pretty predictable but it is just so darn cute. If you’re a sucker for romance books or love stories (like me), this is for you.

Out of the three books that I finished this week, My Sweet Revenge ended up the least impressive. I did enjoy reading it, but it pales in comparison with the other two books.
You can read my thoughts on this one here.

 

As for my weekend reads, I’ll be most likely to keep working on the non-fiction book that I got from the editor for a review.
It’s been 5 days since I started reading this book but I haven’t made much progress with this one. I’ve just started the second chapter and I’m literally reading this at a snail’s pace. Reading 20 pages a day feels like such an achievement for me. It’s really dense and the diction employed in this book is super sophisticated; it’s far cry from the books I’d normally pick up.

Slogging on

Since this book is jam-packed with various kinds of information and my memory retention is getting weaker by the minute, I started to take notes and scribble my thoughts in a word document as I read along.  It is time-consuming, but I figured it would be better if I did this so as not to leave anything out. I don’t know if it’ll work, but I’m enjoying the process so far.

That being said, as I mentioned in my last update, non-fiction is basically not my cup of tea; I think I’ll go nuts if I keep focusing on this book the entire weekend, so I think I’ll pick up The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan.

The keeper of lost things

This wasn’t on my Emojiathon TBR, but when I picked up Luck, Love & Lemon Pie (Amy E. Reichert) for my next challenge, which is to read a book I bought because of its cover, I was a bit put off by the synopsis.  I don’t gamble nor do I know anything about poker, so I wasn’t sure if I’d get attached to the story and I decided to swap it for The Keeper of Lost Things. This is my TBR so I can bend the rules, can’t I? 😛

Anyways, this will be my fifth challenge on my Emojiathon and hopefully I get to complete this during this weekend!

 

What are you going to read during this weekend?
If you are participating in the Emojiathon, how are your challenges coming along?
Let me know in the comments and I’ll talk to you again soon 🙂

Happy reading!

The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek

The nightwalker

The Nightwalker: A Novel

 

Leon Nader suffered from severe insomnia as a child.

His night-walking even caused him to be violent.

After extensive therapy he was cured.
Or was he?

Now as an adult, Leon wakes one morning to find his wife Natalie hastily packing a suitcase. Severely bruised and evidently scared of him, Natalie runs out of the door and disappears.

Confused about what’s happened, Leon begins to wonder if his night-walking has started again. Fitting a motion-activated camera to his forehead to record what he does when he sleeps, Leon makes a shocking discovery. There’s a hidden door in his apartment which he never knew about. As he descends into a nightmare somewhere between sleeping and waking, Leon discovers that there’s a fine line between reality and dreaming – but sometimes waking up isn’t an option…


This is the most mind-bending book I have read all year; I still can’t completely wrap my head around what I’ve just read. This is such a disorienting, trippy read – far more trippier than I had expected.

When I started this book, I was expecting a story describing a young man once suffered from insomnia resumes his nocturnal excursion and commits a litany of brutal, abusive conducts.
How far off I was – the plot is by no means as simple as that – it is more of Leon’s unsettling exploration of his sleepwalking self. It is much more complex, strange and absolutely mind-bending. I felt like I was groping for something to latch on in pitch darkness.  The deeper I went into the book, the more discombobulated I was.

The writing is solid, strong and extremely descriptive. The goriness and brutality displayed in torture scenes are so graphic and raw, it was painful at times thus I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who can’t tolerate such writing styles – this book is definitely not for the faint of heart.
The unreliable narration has a stunning effect on building up the tension and anticipation. It beautifully amplifies the uncertain, hazy feel of the book and blurs what is already a fuzzy boundary between reality and imagination even more, making you keep questioning yourself whether to believe what you’re seeing or doubt there may be more to that.

And the huge, HUGE twist that arrives in the end… my gosh, I didn’t see it coming at all!
Trust me, it is really a surprising twist that will take you by surprise. I almost felt it sickening though. How could they possibly go to such length????
That was the first thing that sprang to mind.

It is extremely hard to talk about this book without giving anything away; all I can say is just ‘pick it up and read to see how you feel about it.’ That’s pretty much says it all.
The eerie feels running throughout the book and the cliff hangers at the end of some chapters… this is such a page-turner, such a delight to read. Simply gorgeous. I loved it.

This is one of those books that’s best to go into completely blindly without knowing almost anything. The joy of reading will be tenfold that way, I’m convinced.

Although I ducked a half star due to a bit anticlimactic and extended epilogue which comes across an afterthought, this is undeniably an exhilarating, thrilling read that gives you creeps.

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

#WeekendReads & Emojiathon Weekly Wrap-Up

This week has passed so quickly; it’s already Friday (here in Japan)!
Like I always do, let me reflect back on my reading progress that I made so far and share the books that I’m going to be reading this weekend 🙂

First, the Emojiathon. Out of 7 books on my Emojiathon TBR, I read The Handmaid’s Tale and am working on My Sweet Revenge at the moment.

(You can read my thoughts on The Handmaid’s Tale here.)

As I was reading some books which were not on my TBR and got completely wrapped up in reading them, I haven’t made much headway in my actual Emojiathon TBR which I find a bit disappointing 😦
I’m currently on page 128 in My Sweet Revenge and I hope that I get to finish this by Sunday.  A girl can dream, right?

My usual self would normally pick up another book from the TBR, but there’s one thing that makes me hold off on doing so.

I’ll come straight to the point – I got a book sent by an editor for an entertainment magazine for a review; she asked me if I’d be willing to write a book review.

Surprise, surprise, isn’t it?

I was a bit concerned if I’d be interested in the book – a biography – which is not a type of book I’d normally pick up.
I don’t know what it is about non-fiction in general that puts me off, but I just don’t get tempted to pick it up.
For that reason, when she first contacted me through my Facebook friend, I was a bit hesitant but agreed to at least take a look at the book. Jumping the gun will never be a good thing, I figured.

I received the book last night and skimmed through the first few pages.
And who’d have thought? I found myself engrossed in the book; I was literally voraciously devouring every single sentence on those pages. Then I thought:

I might be able to pull this off, I might as well give this a try.

Long story short, I sent the editor a message that I’d like to discuss the timeline and the details about the review. I haven’t got the reply yet, but I think I’ll have one soon.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not even 100% sure if I can do this; I’m not and I have never been confident in myself.  Not having done anything like this, I’m kind of scared of failing to live up to her expectations.

That said, I do believe there’s a grain of truth in the adage, ‘everything happens for a reason,’ I’ve decided to at least give this a try. Sometimes you just need to push your limits and see what lies ahead of you. And I thought this is the time for me to do exactly that. Besides, we have yet to discuss the details yet! It’s too early to brush it off, isn’t it? 😀

Anyways, I’ll see how it goes and just do the best I can.

If the reply doesn’t come by tomorrow, I’m going to pick up the Nightwalker for a thriller fix.

The Nightwalker

Contemporary novels and YA books are so much fun to read, but you just need some engrossing spine-chilling thriller for a change and I’m definitely in the mood for that.

 

That’s it for this week.
If you are participating in the Emojiathon, I’d love to know how you are getting along with your TBR. Please comment below whatever you want to say, I’d love LOVE to hear your thoughts! 🙂

Thank you for reading (as always) and I’ll talk to you guys again soon!
Have a great weekend!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's tale

The Handmaid’s Tale

 

It was so hard to rate this book. I have never been torn this much over a book before.
Because 1) the popularity of the book and 2) my scarce experience in reading, those two factors made me balk at making this post. I was even hesitant to post my Goodreads review – it almost felt presumptuous of me to say ANYTHING negative about this book.

I won’t bore you with my runaround – here are my thoughts:

I really, REALLY wanted to like this book. I went into this book with high expectations given the popularity and the hype surrounding this book, but alas, it didn’t happen.
Firstly, the writing. I probably should have started this book with the understanding that it would be more like Offred’s narrative/soliloquy rather than a story woven through the eyes of her. This might have been a huge mistake that I made; this style just didn’t crick with me. I felt most of the part drag and rather monotonous.

I did find the writing style very unique and distinct though; it somewhat felt lyrical at times. With the very explicit descriptions, some scenes left a huge impact on me and literally made the hair on the back of my neck stand up; I really loved the dark and sinister undertones and enjoyed how the creepiness slowly crawling into my mind. It was brilliant, no doubt.

That being said though, what really bothered me was the constant back and forth between the time frames. Since this story is entirely told in first person narrated by Offred herself, there’s a lot of reminiscence of her former life, and the boundaries between the present and the past was so seamless that I often missed the difference and got confused; one minute you’re following Offred’s life in the present and the next minute you slip back into the past. I think I can make sense out of this by regarding this as a truthful reflection of Offred’s emotional process, depicting how her mind wanders off from one point to another, but this goes on and on and on throughout the book so I ended up rereading the same sentence/paragraph over and over.
The vague, hazy feel in Offred’s narration was also what bothered me a little. It gave me an impression that Offred is emotionally numbed or stolid; that made it hard for me to engage in the story.

Secondly, the lack of information/explanation.
In the beginning of the book, there’s hardly ANY descriptions or explanations are made about what kind of society Offred she used to live in and exactly what role she is tasked as a handmaid. While Offred keeps on reminiscing her daily routines as a handmaid and her former life, there’s only a trickle of information coming in at a time which barely cleared my questions. I had to keep speculating who she is and what kind of world she’s living in, I felt frustrated by not knowing enough until I reached the halfway through the book. Although most of my questions were cleared at that point, I wouldn’t say it was satisfactory enough. I still felt like enveloped in a thick fog.

As far as the dystopian aspect is concerned, this book didn’t leave as big an impact on me as 1984 did. That said, I did find this world quite disturbing and unsettling; I was totally shocked when I found out how women’s rights are stripped away in the Republic of Gilead and what consequences await them when they commit a breach of regulations and break the law. But I wish there were more dark underlining ‘being constantly watched’ type of feels running through the book; I would have loved it much better that way.

The last 20 pages (I intentionally excluded the historical notes epilogue that comes after the main story) was such a page-turner. The writing is so strong and the story takes a sudden twist and then rushes toward the stunning end. I personally think this strong portion made up for the monotonous latter half.

With regard to the ending, I honestly don’t know what to think of it; I still don’t know whether I should have taken what I read as is or speculated there’s something more.

Like I said, as I’m still wondering if I got to comprehend this story right. I’ll probably need to come back to this book again sometime later. Then, my rating and perception toward this book might change.
I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars.

May Wrap-Up

May is almost over – it’s May 31st, how time flies! It feels like I blasted through this month, but I’m pretty happy with the number of books that I read this month.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the books that I read in May.
In no particular order:

  • So B. It by Sarah Weeks
  • The Quaker Cafe by Brenda Bevan Remmes
  • Everything I never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
  • The Comforters by Muriel Spark
  • The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

All told, I read 8 books in May. Some of the books are slim and easy to get through (like middle grade books), granted, but I could at least bring back the book count from the plunging seven to eight. Considering I was almost 100 pages into Cloudstreet by Tim Winton before I gave up, which means I had been reading it for about 4 to 5 days, I think this book count looks pretty satisfactory and I’m sort of proud of myself.

Favorites:

  1. The Book Thief 
  2. Wonder
  3. Everything I Never Told You

The Book Thief was hands down the best book that I read this month. It’s simply a wondrously beautiful, poignant book. It’s no doubt a masterpiece. It left a huge impact on me.
Everything I Never Told was also a stunning debut novel from Celeste Ng. It’s a complex yet beautiful, heart-breaking story. It still kind of haunts me to be honest.

The Least Favorite

  1. The Jane Austen Book Club

It really pains me to put it like this, but it was really a disappointment for me.
That was the book I had been meaning to read for the longest time so when it became apparent to me that I might not like this book as much as I had thought, the reading experience rapidly turned into a laborious one 😦
I wanted to read more of the book club activities and discussions rather than background stories of the book club members. (rant-alert!)  It would have been a lot more engaging and intriguing to get through that way.

 

Apart from those I mentioned above, I also enjoyed reading So B. It and The Comforters.
The former is a really good middle grade coming-of-age story and the latter is a rather peculiar, intriguing book. The story seems a bit disjointed and disorienting at a glance; it makes you wonder where the story is heading to, but pretty much everything comes together nicely in the end. I particularly fell in love its somewhat cynical, sinister undertone. This book actually made me get another Muriel Spark book and I can’t wait to read it.


Although I’m still working my way through All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, it looks next to impossible for me to finish the remaining 150 pages today, so I decided to do a wrap-up today.

 

That’s it, guys. Those are the books and my brief reflection on my May reads.
How about you? Did you have a good reading month?
Let me know in the comments below, I can’t wait to read your answers!

Thank you for reading as always, I’ll talk to you all again soon! 😀

 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder

 Wonder

 

This book did it again; this book left me in a complete sobbing mess.
Thank goodness I was at home vegging out on my couch while reading this rather than stuck in the middle seat on the airplane which was what happened the last time.

 

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.


 

As I mentioned earlier in my #WeekendReads post, this was the second time I’ve read this book. Although I knew I would enjoy this reread as much as I did the last time, little did I imagine that I would literally gobble up this book so quickly. I got through the remaining 70% in almost one sitting. Once I picked it up, I just couldn’t put it down.
It was a pure delight to read this book. I enjoyed this book IMMENSELY and I loved it so much.

This story is told in multiple perspectives; we follow this epic story from mainly Auggie’s POV and those of his family member, friends and some other characters appear in this book.
I vaguely remembered that, but I thought it was in dual perspectives and was pleasantly surprised that there are even more.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t quite sold on that; I didn’t find it absolutely necessary to follow some of the characters’ viewpoints. That being said though, I must admit that their perspectives did serve well to help us better understand what was behind the story such as their true feelings or reservations and it definitely adds more depth to the story.
It might come across a bit spoilery, but I personally loved Via’s side of the story. Her emotional shift toward August and her family that she experiences after spending weeks at her Grandma’s place and especially since she started high school was brilliantly depicted. While you’re in the thick of something or a situation which may not be considered ‘normal’ from a conventional point of view, you’re kind of used to it and you take it for granted because it is the ‘world’ that you exist in. But once you get away from it – however short it may be – you start looking at it in a different way when you get back to it; as though being away from it opened the door that leads to a different world you have never known. I totally understand her feelings. I would feel exactly the same way if I were in her shoes. Let’s be real; we all probably would more or less. 

Although I knew the story line, I was quite surprised by how raw it felt with this reread; everything in this book, like, the dialogues between characters came directly into me and I found it tough to get through at times.
Although this is basically a middle-grade book written for children, I was deeply impressed with how complex this book actually is. This is definitely not your average children’s book; this touches on some heavy yet important issues such as bullying, discrimination, prejudice.

I got so emotional with all the mean stuff that Auggie goes through in his early days at middle school. I, as a reader, was once again reminded that how prejudiced we can be against those who we see DON’T BELONG to our group/society. We can brush them off or even expel them just because they’re ‘different’ from us. We could even go far as to put them in a box and label them as ‘misfits’  It’s even worse when it’s done by us adult than done by little kids because, in Auggie’s words, ‘they don’t actually know what they’re saying.’

They(little kids) don’s say stuff to try to hurt your feelings, even though sometimes they do say stuff that hurts your feelings. But they don’t actually know what they’re saying. Big kids, though: they know what they’re saying.

I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Auggie to go through all this. It’s too much to take for a mere 10-year old boy, but I was deeply moved and enthralled by the strong bond of Auggie’s family. Whenever Auggie needs help, they are all there for him; they embrace him and stand by him with all their might. So do Jack and Summer, and some other kids in class. It was really captivating and therapeutic to read how the shift in the dynamics surfaces and how Auggie starts to gain popularity in the latter part of the book. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at that point.

All the characters are well-fleshed out and so vibrant. My personal favorite is actually Via. I adore Auggie of course, but I like the ‘big sisterly’ piece of advice that she throws at Auggie after Halloween. She is smart, understanding, sensitive and warm at heart. I basically loved all the characters appeared in this book except ‘the jerk,’ Julian. I can’t tell you enough how irritated and infuriated I was.
Like I mentioned, the shift in the character dynamics is brilliant. I felt like I was vindicated if that makes any sense.

The writing is quite straightforward, brisk and strong. Since the main bulk of the story is narrated by Auggie, the diction is quite casual and easy to follow.
In addition to that, I was also impressed by this story being partially narrated in multiple formats: IM and Facebook etc, etc.
I know it’s a format that often appears in YA, but I didn’t even know the same goes for middle grade books. I quite enjoyed that.


There are actually still a lot of things I think I need to cover and I want to talk about, but I’ll leave them to you readers to find out. Just grab the book and read it. You’ll be touched by how beautifully and wonderfully crafted this story is.

This book inspired me in every possible way; so insightful, so enlightening and beautiful.
There is hardly any issue in this book. This is definitely a 5 star book for me.
I simply LOVE IT.