Goodreads Monday: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Hello, everyone! As I said in my previous post, I decided to incorporate some new features into my blog starting today and this Goodreads Monday post is one of them. I hope you enjoy the upcoming new features 🙂

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created and hosted by Lauren@Lauren’s Page Turners. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off! Don’t forget to check out Lauren’s blog and link back to her so that others can see what you picked!

My very first pick for Goodreads Monday is:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

 

Goodreads Synopsis

Louisa Clark is an ordinary young woman living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

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I got this book through my dear Twitter friend last November or early December.
I wanted to read this book so badly, but for some reason this book has been sitting on my bookshelf since then.
It’s probably the controversy and the backlash the book and the film have gotten from Disabled communities that make me a bit hesitant, but I think I’ll pick this one up next month. I’m saying this because I want you all to hold me accountable and remind me not to put it off any longer! (because I can be such a procrastinator… )

 

I’m pretty certain that most of you have already read this book, what are your thoughts?
Let me know in the comments below and Happy Monday to you all! 😀

Noriko

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#WeekendReads & Emojiathon Wrap-Up (Final)

Hello, everyone! Like it or not, June is almost over – this is June 30th (in Japan) and it’s time for doing my Emojiathon wrap-up and sharing a book that I’ll be reading over this weekend.

Let’s start off with my Emojiathon wrap-up. I set out 7 challenges for this Readathon, you can check out my challenges here.

Out of those 7 challenges, I completed 6 challenges as follows:

HeartRead a romance or contemporary
My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon : Complete!  (for my thoughts: here)

smile  Read a book you bought because of its cover 
The Keeper of Lost Things : Complete! (For my thoughts: here)

freebie Freebie! Read any book
Paige’s Turn by Jennifer Peel : Complete! (For my thoughts: here)

horror  Read a thriller or horror
The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek : Complete! (For my thoughts: here)

eyes  Read a book you’ve been seeing everywhere
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood : Complete! (For my thoughts: here)

baby  Read a 2016/2017 release
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sadhya Menon : Complete! (For my thoughts: here)

 

The only challenge I failed to complete was ‘To read a book about a current event.’
I picked up The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas for this, but I’m only halfway through the book and it’s apparent that I cannot complete it by the end of today. So, there you have it – 6 out of 7 challenges. I still count it as a victory 🙂

Which leads me to my weekend reads. I’ll definitely continue reading ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas.

The Hate U Give

Seriously, I cannot figure out why it took me so long to pick this up – I got this book at the beginning of March, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading it.  All the hype and this book being a YA must have put me off a little bit.

But why, how strong this book is – I do find some parts/scenes are slightly  redundant and monotonous, yet there are incredibly gripping scenes that evoke my feelings … I even had some scenes where I felt my blood boiling. Again, I’m only halfway through the book, but I’m convinced this book will topple my world and perspectives upside-down and I cannot wait to find out what big an effect this book will have on me.

I’m so glad that I participated in this Emojiathon. I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up otherwise.

 

So, that’s it! This concludes my Emojiathon wrap-up and weekly updates in the month of June.
How about you? What are the books you’re currently reading or planning to read?
Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you in my next post!
Hope you have a fabulous weekend 🙂

Noriko

 

Note: I’ve decided to change my Handle name for WordPress from ‘Norin’ to ‘Noriko,’ which is my name. Don’t be a stranger! It’s me! lol

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Paige’s Turn by Jennifer Peel

Paige's Turn

Paige’s Turn

 

With the encouragement of her beloved Aunt Mitzi, plain and overlooked Paige James left her hometown of Bella Port ten years ago and never looked back. But free-spirited Aunt Mitzi had plans for Paige to stop being pushed into the background. Those plans included leaving Paige as sole heir to her fortune and owner of her bookstore, Paige’s Turn. Begrudgingly, Paige returns home to fulfill her aunt’s last wishes, no longer the girl who’d left in baggy jeans and an ill-fitting t-shirt.

Paige discovers, though, that Mitzi’s last wishes include a lot of meddling in her love life. From the grave, and with the help of some friends, Mitzi has set out to make sure Paige and Bella Port’s most eligible bachelor, Sam Kennedy, find true love together. What Mitzi didn’t foresee is the firestorm and gossip she created that paints Paige as a swindler and liar, leaving Sam to wonder about the grown woman Paige has become. It doesn’t help when Paige fires him after their first meeting. But as friendship blossoms between Paige and Sam, they find each other hard to resist.

Was Mitzi right about the two of them? Will Paige finally have her turn?

 


 

This is a cute, quick read.  For being such a slim book with only 225 page count, it’s got pretty solid story line and subplots in there. It touches on life, relationships, the struggles in a dysfunctional family and romance. The author did a pretty decent job of squeezing all those elements into this little book.

That being said though, there isn’t nothing particular in this book that makes this book stand out. I did enjoy reading this, it’s pretty unputdownable once you start reading, but I had some issues with the plot.

Firstly, the story. The whole ‘once insignificant ugly duck later turns into a stunningly beautiful swan and astonishes everyone who once scowled at her’ type of trope is pretty predictable and I could spot how the story would unfold from miles away.
Being predictable is in fact OK with me. It in a way gives you some reassurance that things will eventually look up in the end and I tend to see it as comfort food, but Mitzi’s persistent, meddlesome intervention put me off a little bit.
Once or twice could be tolerated, it was touching indeed, but it came across a bit forceful to me and I didn’t appreciate it that much.

The whole plot seemed a bit too expedient and plain-sailing too. The ’10 years-later’ part kicks off pretty nicely introducing the rift between Paige and her family after Paige’s inheritance of Mitzi’s money. Sam’s drastic, rather disturbing change of attitudes towards Paige worked really well and pulled me in the story, making my heart ache a bit.  But the reconciliation with Darren arrives too early in the story and the family issues didn’t come across deep-rooted either. Her mother’s antagonism against Paige which is a prominent element in this story wasn’t convincing nor did the reasoning that Mitzi and her father gave to Paige feel strong enough to drive a deep wedge in the family. It felt kind of forced and a bit of a stretch.

That said though, there are a lot of emotional, rewarding moments throughout the book.
My favorite moment is definitely the shift in the dynamics between Paige and her sister, Maggie. They were both kind of aloof and they never felt they knew each other well, but once the confession made by Maggie’s husband sheds a light to what Paige is really like – making Maggie come to her senses that Paige is not as black as they painted her – they get bonded and start forging a strong sisterhood. This is undeniably one of the highlights in this story; it is such a delight to read how all the misconceptions and misunderstandings about Paige gradually get straightened out.

As a protagonist, Paige seemed a bit weak. She is liberal, independent and mentally strong and darn attractive (her beauty and grace is well showcased), but her character doesn’t seem to possess the ‘draw’ that pulls me in. There are scenes that she displays her strength and compassion for others and I loved reading her finally letting out all the feelings that she has bottled up inside whenever she channels her aunt Mitzi, but other than that, I didn’t get to connect with her emotionally.  That said, it doesn’t affect the way I looked at the story at all. I enjoyed reading it just the same.

As for the romance between Paige and Sam… I can’t find words to describe this other than to say, ‘swoony.’ The opening scene in the tree house is simply stunning. A teenage crush on her big brother’s best friend, a kiss on the cheek – it seems typical, but for me, it’s enough to make my heart do cartwheels.
Their attraction towards each other is pretty palpable right from the beginning; we can easily spot the sparks running between them and anticipate the distance between them getting closer and closer by the minute, but it actually develops really slowly and the situation sometimes gets in the way and makes them push each other away, which frustrated me in a pleasant way. It was almost tantalizing.

Reading this book made me realize what a sucker I am for romance books.
Despite some issues and flaws that I mentioned earlier, I still enjoyed reading this. My gut-feeling wouldn’t go so far as to declare my abiding love toward this book due to a bit too beautiful ending, but I liked it enough.
If you are into this genre, or as big a sucker for being addressed as ‘princess’ as I am, then this book is for you – you’ll be sure to enjoy this 🙂
I gave this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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!

A Lady of High Regard by Tracie Peterson

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■Synopsis (Excerpt from Goodreads)

Born into affluence, Mia Stanley is a winsome socialite with a knack for matchmaking. She’s also a writer for Godey’s Lady’s Book magazine, much to the disdain of her family and their society friends. A proper young lady of her social standing isn’t meant to labor in such a way, but Mia has always had a way with words…

When her writing draws her into the world of downtrodden seamen’s wives on Philadelphia’s docks, Mia uncovers a scheme that puts her in harm’s way. But her heart ends up on the line as well…. Has her determination to always make a match driven away the one man whose esteem she covets?

 


I haven’t been able to process my feelings toward this book just yet. I don’t particularly adore this book but it’s not like I HATE it, either. I’m kind of being in the middle, if you like.

This is a typical romance story which sets somewhere in the 19th Century. The protagonist, Mia is born to a wealthy family,  she is a ‘Lady of High Regard. She loves acting as a matchmaker and tries to find his best friend, Garrett a suitable wife.

My first impression on this character setting was:
‘Well, that sounds pretty much like Emma by Jane Austen.’ 
I have never read the book. I have only watched the movie adaptation, but I thought Mia’s character setting is quite similar to the one of Emma from the first moment when I found out what kind of woman Mia is.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t relate to Mia as much. I know she is an amiable, compassionate woman yet she also comes across a feisty, headstrong young woman and her naivety and imprudence really put me off.
I do think it’s really nice and commendable of her to try to save seamen’s wives out of their plight despite knowing she is well out of bounds. Nevertheless, I was almost sick of her repeatedly (again, REPEATEDLY) making stupid, reckless, impetuous decisions.
One minute she pledges to her father that she would seek wise counsel and the next minute she acts recklessly in the heat of passion, blindly believing that she can only solve the problem.

As for the story where two old best friends growing up as a brother and a sister finally recognizes their feelings toward each other, I find it interesting yet a bit predictable and old. It was good that it’s got some suspenseful twists to it, but the pacing -as far as the romance goes – was incredibly slow and a bit irritating.
The number of interruptions really threw me off; whenever either of the main two characters tries to confess their love, the interruption comes. I could tolerate it if it were once or twice, but this many???  It does serve to make it more suspenseful and I did want to know how it would play out, but I was a bit frustrated and wanted to cry, “Come on, you two, forget the propriety and blurt it out already!”
On that point, I think it was successful.

Generally the characters didn’t leave much big of an impact on me, neither do the story line.
Oh, but I love Mia’s father a lot. He is an epitome of words of wisdom. I particularly liked the lesson he gives his reckless daughter Mia, such as:

I fear that if you do not learn moderation and learn to temper your responses, however, that you’ll find yourself sorely misused, if not dead.

Meanwhile she’ll stew and fret over what she’s said and done. It will serve her right.

Those remarks made me laugh out loud – what better sermon could there possibly be? He said exactly what I wanted to say to Mia. I love that man.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this. It didn’t grab me as strongly as I had hoped, but I did enjoy reading their slow budding love and I must admit the repetitive misunderstanding between Mia and Garrett hooked me.

As the setting suggest, the writing is rather formal which is reminiscent of Classic literature, but it’s not so arcane, it’s simple enough to get through.
If you are up for light-hearted, classic-ish romance book, you might enjoy this.

I’ll give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Will You Remember Me? by Amanda Prowse

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Will You Remember Me? (No Greater Love)

 

This 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 his emotional process could have been – 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. 

Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson

prejudice

Prejudice Meets Pride (Meet Your Match, book 1) (Volume 1)

■Synopsis (excerpt from Goodreads)

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.

Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn’t afraid to show him that he doesn’t. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.


 

This book surprised me in various ways – with its strong writing and the solid story line, it sucked me in right from the start and kept me on the edge of my seat until the end.

To be perfectly honest, I started this book with low expectations because it was one of those books that you get from Amazon for free. I may be a bit biased and quick to brush off those free books, but I’d had my fair share of disappointments from such free offers albeit only temporary, so I couldn’t help but be a bit skeptic about starting this book.

As I mentioned, however, I found this book surprisingly powerful and delightful to read.

The main character, Emma comes across a bit frustrating and obnoxious at first, particularly when she keeps turning down every single olive branch Kevin has to offer; she stubbornly clings to what little pride she has and I couldn’t figure out why she has to be SO STUBBORN AND PRIDEFUL.
That said, even with the issue that I had with Emma’s personality, the story development – the chemistry between Emma and Kevin in particular – won over my heart and I really enjoyed the reading experience.This is a cute, swoony read.

I think the title is very fitting to the story; I leave it to you what ‘Prejudice’ and ‘Pride’ represent, but I think it speaks volumes what this story is all about.

The writing is on-point, beautiful and very descriptive. The descriptions of spark-inducing kiss scenes and Emma’s murals and painting aree just amazing and I can easily visualize what they looks like. I wonder if the author actually dabbled in art; she did an amazing job on that.
The dialogues and prose are also vibrant and scintillating. I enjoyed the flirting banter going back and forth between them so much; that was one of the things that reeled me in.

As to the story crafting, I found it interesting that the author employed the game, ‘20 questions’ to narrate Emma and Kevin’s upbringing and past. This scene brought much depth to the story and told me why Emma is the way she is, where her overly strong refusal to be a ‘charity case’ comes from.  It was the scene where I began to understand Emma’s personality and started warming up to her. I wouldn’t say that I can relate to her (because I still don’t), but I thought this twist effective.

In addition to that, the scene where Kevin has a heart-to-heart talk with his mom was also fantastic. It completely flipped the way I see his mother upside-down. Since I wasn’t expecting that turn of event at all, it caught me off guard and I couldn’t help giggling in delight. The remaining chapters are quite quite page turners. I just couldn’t put it down, I was anxious to find out how the story unfolds between Emma and Kevin.

All in all, this is really a sweet, delightful read. The way how Emma and Kevin’s emotional distance closes in on is definitely worth the read – I’m sure it’ll make your heart flutter. I recommend you pick this up if you’re into women’s fiction or Chick-lit.