#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.

Will You Remember Me? by Amanda Prowse

21570571This book emotionally shattered me; it left me in a complete sobbing mess, I don’t even know how many tears I shed. It’s so sad, poignant, yet amazingly beautiful.

This is a heart-wrenching story of Poppy Day, a wife of Martin and a mother of Peg and Max being diagnosed terminal breast cancer and then trying to live to the fullest, struggling with her sorrow and angst over having to leave the man whom she loves more than anyone else and her kids who she would never trade for the world.

I picked up this book not knowing this is the sixth book in the ‘No Greater Love’ series thus I didn’t get fully invested in the story or the characters until I reached almost halfway through the book.

There were scenes that pulled at my heartstrings here and there in the first half, but the enormity of the grim reality that awaits Poppy didn’t sink in on me as much as I would have liked.

I think I can attributed it to this book being a part of the series; all the characterizations and story-settings must have been done in the previous books, I don’t think there are a lot of explanations on the character dynamics thus it actually took me a while to piece together who and who are connected and their character backgrounds.

Then there came Martin’s outburst; this scene struck me so hard to the core. 

His broke down comes when he finds the thing that’s very important to him taken away from his and Poppy’s special place. He buckles down on his knees and then starts crying… his words, the streak of words that’s coming from his mouth just got me all welled up.

From then, the whole story starts exuding the grim and grave atmosphere as Poppy and Martin try to prepare themselves for the aftermath that will come after Poppy is gone.
At that point, I started to avoid reading this book out in public, which I often do as a bookworm. However, anticipating how sad and heartrending this story was going to be, I just couldn’t. Being a sucker for tear-jerker stories, I didn’t want anyone to see me welling up.

I gobbled down the latter half in two-sittings. It was such a page-turner, I literally couldn’t put it down.
I particularly infuriated and gritted my teeth when I found out there is SOMETHING happening between two characters at Poppy and Martin’s wedding party of all places. I just didn’t see it coming at all thus it hit me like a sledgehammer. I just couldn’t process what I just read.

The ensuing scenes hit me so hard in the feels; it evoked my emotions much more than I thought it would.
I particularly found it really poignant and sad that Poppy has to leave behind their loved ones as young as 32 years old. Her declining health and physical and emotional exhaustion were accurately narrated and it hurt me so bad.

The last several chapters just broke me; the dialogues, the letters, and the obituary.
I just couldn’t hold back my tears, I let it streak down my cheeks. I don’t even remember when was the last time I cried so hard over a book.

I felt this book rather personal from my experience of having lost my father to terminal cancer.
I saw his system shutting down right in front of my eyes; quietly slipping into a coma with his breast rising and falling.
I saw how slow and sluggish his every single movement became as his health deteriorated.
I feel like this book has given me an insight into what could have been his emotional process, having to face death leaving his family and friends behind.

Such emotions that I had from putting myself in Poppy and Martin’s shoes kept washing over me like tidal waves even after I closed the book. If anything, they got stronger now that I saw how it ends.

Personally, I am not 100% happy with the ending. I didn’t like the two (that I mentioned earlier) being together. I guess that’s the only issue that I have about this book.

‘Warning: you will need tissues!’

A warning from the back cover. How well put it is. You’ll definitely need tissues.
A LOT. 

Mini Mini Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

the-firemanYes, I’ve just finished reading ‘The Fireman’ by Joe Hill. It took me precisely one week from start to finish.

I’d normally post a review immediately after I’ve finished, but with this book, I think I’ll refrain from posting a full review and there are good reasons for this.

Firstly, this book is quite long; it’s got whopping 747 pages. I hate to admit this, but I’m afraid I’ve missed out some details which could have played a huge role in the plot as I sometimes found myself dozing off particularly when I was reading at night. So, I figure it’s not fair to say much about this book before I get a better picture of what this book is about.

Secondly, I find it extremely hard to gather my thoughts to be honest – as there are so many things and stories going on in this book, it’s really difficult to pinpoint what I found were really good and what I had issues with.

Not that I’m saying I actually had a lot of issues with; although I felt there may have been too much information or side stories that could have been cut, I did enjoy reading this book despite its length. It almost felt so addictive, keeping me engaged the entire time.

I picked up this book expecting a very thrilling apocalyptic story, it was actually included in Bookbub’s ‘creepy books for October’ list and I got tempted and asked my friend to get it on my behalf.

The preface was really enticing and gripping – describing how the mysterious plague (that causes spontaneous combustion) exploded and people started bursting into flames across the world -I thought it was exactly what I had expected.

However, then the story takes a different turn from what I was expecting. To be honest, I found it a bit of a letdown; I was expecting a super-exciting life and death horror story, like ‘you gotta have to keep running, the enemy is coming after you!!!’ kind of story so to speak.

That said, I also have to admit that I got hooked by this book somehow. I found there is actually a lot more to this book than just a horror story. Joe Hill did a great job in the character development; the intricately entwined relationships between the characters and the ensuing dramas are just amazing. His writing is so powerful and so emotional, there are a lot of scenes where I just couldn’t put it down.

I particularly liked the way he describes the change in the dynamics in the Camp Whyndam; after a shocking incident in the camp, the insidious, sinister side of their personality gradually start searing into surface and people who used to be described as kind and generous start to seem like stolid and harsh, even bitchy.
I seriously doubt this can be categorized as ‘horror story’ by the way – it feels more of a human drama with some horror twists to me.

Although I definitely NOT happy with what happens to the fireman in the very end, yet I have to admit it is so dramatic and even emotional. Gosh, I lost my words at that point.

Even if this is not a type of book you normally read, I’ll recommend jumping out of your comfort zone at times. Despite its length, I highly recommend this and I’ll definitely re-read it sometime later. Because I don’t want to miss a thing!!