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

360019■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

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. 

Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson

prejudice■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.


 

Well, well, well.
This book surprised me in various ways – with its strong writing as well as 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.

However, as I mentioned, I found this book surprisingly powerful and delightful to read.

The main character, Emma came across a bit frustrating and obnoxious at first, particularly when she keep 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 THAT STUBBORN AND PRIDEFUL. 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.

I personally find her writing was on-point, beautiful and very descriptive. The descriptions of spark-inducing kiss scenes and Emma’s murals and painting were just amazing and I can easily visualize what they would look 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 into the story and told me why Emma is the way she is, where her overly strong refusal to be a ‘case of charity’ 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 of Kevin being 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 ensuing chapters till the end is quite a page turner. 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’m positive!

 

Winter by Marissa Meyer

winterI could give this book billions of stars. Five stars could never, ever be enough.
I ADORE THIS BOOK. THIS WOULD REMAIN AS MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE, I’M CERTAIN OF IT.

Despite its volume, which is over 800 pages, this book never bored me. I never had a dull moment.

So many things happen, so many dramas take place, it’s literally like a whirlwind. Everything flashes so fast, yet leaves an incredibly big impact on me.
And let’s not forget about the romance between the characters; each romance felt so adorable, and MADE MY HEART SWOON. I can’t get enough of this. I love it soooo much.

The story-crafting is just as amazing as the rest of the series, but I think Marissa Meyer’s writing gets only better each book.
Just like ‘Cress,’ they are the scenes where the characters of Cinder’s gang split up and go their separate ways to fulfill the missions assigned to them and a lot of things happen along the way. Each of them are driven into a corner, give or take,  but their paths do cross in the latter of the book. The way each side story between the characters beautifully entwines is just enthralling and captivating. I must say that my most favorite would be the story between Cinder and Kai, yet I admit that the book held me in thrall the entire time.

Although I have never touched on the aspect of this series being a Sci-Fi retelling of fairy tales and each book based off of fairy tale characters, I think I must mention this is a great retelling of ‘Snow White.’  Jacin’s dedication to Princess Winter is so sweet and adorable. Particularly the scene where Jacin kneels down and tries to kiss Winter to peace her deranged mind together reminded me of the Prince kissing Snow White; it was a perfect reflection of the original story.

Another thing I want to mention here is how amazing the each speech made by any of the main characters sounds in the book. The story involves royals from both Luna and the Eastern Commonwealth, so it does include a lot of political messages and diplomacy and I assume it’s kind of hard to make those speeches sound realistic and cogent. In that respect, the author did it a spectacular job. The words just resonated with me, tugging at my heartstrings and they evoked my emotions; it gave me all sorts of feels. Sadness, despair, angst, and delight.

I had moments where I gritted my teeth, felt my skin crawl, sighed in despair, squealed both with frustration and delight, and had my eyes welled up – and I adore every single inch of the book.

The character development is also stellar – I got even warmed up to Wolf and Scarlet whom I hadn’t appreciated much in the previous books. In particular, Wolf’s characterization is amazing; his bashfulness and concerns after the re-bio engineering (You’ll know what scene I’m talking about if you have read the book) made me chuckle. It warmed the cockles of my heart. My gosh, how I adore all those characters!!

It hasn’t been even ten minutes since I closed the book, but I’m already missing all the excitement and good times that I had reading this book.

I now realize what the BookTubers were talking about when they said they were not ready for the series to end. I was in no way ready for this…(sobs).

But I appreciate the ending; I am glad that it did end on a positive, hopeful note.
Although it was a teeny bit of a letdown that I didn’t get to see the explicit closure between Kai and Cinder’s romance, namely, a happy ending between those two, it still casts a ray of hope of them being together someday, so I’ll try to be cool with that.

Oh, my God. I want to read the after story, particularly what happens between Kai and Cinder!!
(I know I’m gushing so much about those two, but I can’t help feeling attached to those two. Who wouldn’t?)

I highly recommend this book. This is definitely worth the appellation of ‘the Grand Finale.’

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

the-sunI couldn’t put my finger on what exactly tugged my heartstrings when I finished the book.
I couldn’t elaborate the feelings that I had when I closed the book. 
Something warm and bittersweet, poignant feelings washed over me. 

It was only a sigh that escaped me. Neither could I move nor speak. I didn’t even know what happened to me. I felt so overwhelmed and powerless.

I picked up this book knowing it deals with some heavy yet important issues. Although the book itself is categorized as YA, I couldn’t resist my temptation to get my hands on it.

First and foremost, this book totally crashed me; not only is the writing as beautiful and poetic as ‘Everything Everything,’ the story-crafting is also enthralling.

As I briefly mentioned, this book touches on some very important issues such as racism, discrimination, stereotypes, and political issues like deportation.

We tend to let such issues slip away being preoccupied with our daily lives, but surprisingly enough, this book made me realize racism and stereotypes are entrenched in our lives much more deeply than we might imagine. That aspect is explicitly described in the scene where Natasha and Daniel visit a shop Daniel’s father runs. It may not strike you instantly, but I believe the significance and the message will sink in on you as you process the scene.

The characterizations of the two main characters is also brilliant; Natasha is so clever and smart yet is adamant to pass herself off as someone who doesn’t believe in ‘love,’ or ‘fate.’ She love sciences and is pragmatic, but the change she undergoes through the interaction with Daniele comes so gradually and naturally, it feels even beautiful.

On the other hand, Daniel, who is Korean-American and a boy who possesses a mind of poet is just lovable. He is romantic, gentle and passionate. Just as adamant Natasha is toward nonexistent of love, Daniel strongly believes in the power of ‘love’ and ‘fate’ and does everything in his power to get Natasha to see things in his light. The road to success had already been laid out for him, entering Yale and becoming a doctor… yet he is willing to mess up his life for the sake of ‘love.’ The chemistry between those two characters is just beautiful and captivating.

I assume there are a lot of readers who don’t think much of ‘insta-love,’ but I think this one-day romance between Natasha and Daniel resonates with a lot of them; it’s got some special quality and power that speak to our souls.

The underlining limitation to the duration of their romance -‘one day’ -must have taken this story to the next level. They have only hours left and that is all the more reason why they become near-desperate to make it happen; make what happens between them sustainable. It felt kind of cleansing to me. So beautifully written.

However, this book also teaches there are things that are beyond your control, and they often stem from others’ conduct. Life can be ugly and tough; no amount of love or strong volition can overturn the decision that had been made. We just have to let it go.

This fact is told in a very quiet manner yet the message cuts right into my heart.

Speaking of writing, I found the writing style employed in this book was so unique and fantastic. This book is narrated in multiple perspectives, which means each chapter is narrated from a different perspective. The vast majority of the book is narrated from Natasha and Daniel’s perspectives, but you can also read the story from different charactes’ perspectives and it was quite interesting to read how the same thing can be differently perceived through others’ lens.

The author did an amazing job to even include some random characters to weave the story, the characters who only briefly involve in their lives in the specific day- Natasha’s last day in the U.S. before she’s deported back to Jamaica – and it described how each characters’ words and deeds can affect each other’s lives. This ripple effect kind of approach felt fresh to me.

To be honest, it took me a while to get invested in the story and I didn’t find it gripping until the latter part in the story, but from then onward, I was glued to the book, I just couldn’t put it down.
The ending is particularly spectacular – although I had mixed feelings about how the story goes, I was so happy when I reached the last airplane scene. The epilogue beautifully wraps up this amazing, beautiful story.

I really adore this book. This is not a mere YA book. I recommend everyone reads this.This is definitely worth a read.

Cress by Marissa Meyer

cress-coverMarissa Meyer did it again.
I would definitely say Cress, the third book in The Lunar Chronicles series, is the best of the three. I absolutely adore this book.

As I mentioned in my Scarlet post, I wasn’t a massive fan of the heroine, Scarlet, thus I didn’t love ‘Scarlet’ as much as I had thought I would.
However, this ‘Cress’ is just like a roller coaster – with a lot of drama and twists going, I never felt bored while I was reading it.

The new character, Cress, is such an adorable character. She comes across so timid in the beginning which is totally understandable given the fact that she had been trapped in a satellite circling the orbit for the last seven years, but she develops herself and becomes much stronger and confident as the story goes. Her innocent, naive personality and her flair in hacking makes her attractive and endearing. I am so glad that I can say that I could relate to the main character this time because it didn’t happen in the last book.

The story crafting is just amazing and stellar – an awful lot happen in this book and it makes the book so gripping and riveting. I didn’t want to put it down but I had to put it down. I had to take a moment and take a calming breath to let the story sink in and brace myself for the next twist.
An incident happens in the early stage of the story splits Cinder’s gang and they go their separate ways from the point onward; Cress with Thorne, Cinder with Wolf and Jacin, a Lunar Guard, while Scarlet has to fight her way all alone.

I found it interesting to read the multiple story lines go in parallel with each other but never jumble up. All the story lines come together in the end so perfectly concurrently with the reunion of all the members (except for Scarlet). It was just gorgeous.

I can’t go without talking about the emotional aspect of this series; just like the last two books, this book broke my heart so many times.
In particular, what happens to Thorne came as a jolt; it happens at a relatively early stage of the book and I knew a lot more would be coming, but I couldn’t resist the urge to find out if he was going to be Okay – I went to Google and I ended up reading some spoilers (Duh). That goes to show how I was engrossed in the story. I just couldn’t stand it.
It always hurts when something bad happens to the characters whom I’m so invested in, and in that sense, this book wrecked me more than once. It was so heart-wrenching and I couldn’t help screaming in frustration and angst.
That said, I also have to say it is quite entertaining.

The romance between my two favorite characters, Cinder and Kai, literally made me swoon.
I had to wait for like 460 pages to see them together, but it was definitely worth the wait. The ensuing romantic scene was to die for, at least for me.
I thought things went a bit too smoothly between Cinder and Kai, but the author did an amazing job in getting us readers to snap out of it and focus on the immediate retaliation by the conniving, despicable Queen Lavana.

I wonder what will happen in the last book, ‘Winter’?
I’m totally ready for another epic ride!