Books · Thoughts

Top 5 Favorite Books I Have Read This Year

Every year, I set a goal with how many books I want to read. This year, my goal was to read 35 books. While I still have a few months left to complete this goal, I am one book away to complete the 35 books read (and that one book left to complete my goal is “It” by Stephen King; almost done with that one!) I have read all sorts of books this year. Some fiction, some non-fiction. Some not so great books, and some incredibly amazing works of art.

So I wanted to talk about the books that I have absolutely loved that I have read this year. That doesn’t mean that these books were published this year; some of these may have been published many years ago.

book1 Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (2016)

I have to say, this had to be one of the most interesting books that I have read in 2017. I have always been fascinated with string theory and different dimensions, and this book turned the heavy, scientific topic into entertainment. I can honestly say that I can see this as a beautiful visual movie.

This book I got through within 24 hours, and I wouldn’t mind reading this one again.

 

 

book2

The Mistborn Trilogy By Brandon Sanderson (2006, 2007, 2008)

At this very moment, I have only read the first two books of this trilogy, and I am on the waiting list for the third book. And I must say, I can’t wait until I read the third installment of this trilogy! The world and characters that Sanderson has created for these books are incredible.

What happens if the prophesied “hero of ages” fails? Consequences ensue from the failure, but what actually happened when the “hero” had failed? Nothing seems to add up with the inconsistent history that was written about the events.

With almost “jedi-esque” powers that characters hold, this is an action packed trilogy that holds a lot of twists and turns that I never had expected. Sanderson is a patient writer, and everything pays off, in one way or another, in the end.

 

book3All the Light we Cannot See By Anthony Doerr (2014)

One of the most beautiful historical novels that I have recently read. Taking place in occupied France, it follows a brilliant boy who is incredible with fixing radios, and a blind girl, which her father had made a miniature scale model of their town so that she may navigate on her own.

Wonderfully written. It talks about the Hitler youth and some of the consequences with that group.

With a little folklore and slightly magical, this novel is worth the read.

 

book4The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (2008)

This book is through the eyes of a pet dog, who wants to be a human. In his words, he portrays loyalty and love as only a dog can do. Love, heartbreak, desire, family, and loyalty are portrayed very well in this novel, and I didn’t question the voice of the main “character” at all.

I had listened to this audiobook during work. And some parts, I have to admit, I had to pause and listen to the rest of those parts in private. Be prepared to get all of the feels when reading this cute novel!
book5Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1994)

Unfortunately, I had watched the movie before reading this novel, which had ruined the massive twist in the end of the novel. But, even as I expected the ending, I greatly appreciated the book.

The world that was set up in this “prequel” novel, was fantastic and believable. The characters were strong and individualistic, and the politics were fascinating with how everything was militaristic and almost dystopian. This made me want to continue on with the series with the more philosophical sequel “Speaker for the Dead”.

 

With the year almost ending, and my books read goal almost completed, it only leads me to think and feel one thing: can I read more books next year? With also joining a Book of the Month subscription club where I receive a novel each month and being able to listen to library rented audiobooks during work hours, I want to devour more literature. I can’t see myself ever letting up on reading books. NEED! MORE!

Book Review · Books

“Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith

5/5 Rating

Amazon Link / Goodreads Link

I am very glad that I read through these Cormoran Strike books. Firstly, because I have really enjoyed the stories and character development very much with this trilogy (currently a trilogy, who knows if there will be a fourth, or fifth book?). Secondly, I enjoyed seeing J.K, Rowling evolve as a writer. As with many people with my generation, I grew up with Harry Potter novels. Now, I think it’s wonderful reading more of her work. And yes, it is a lot more mature than the Harry Potter novels.

I enjoyed Career of Evil quite a lot. I loved reading more about Robin, and I didn’t feel as if her back story was cheap at all, because there was some build up to it.

[Spoilers]

One other reason why I wasn’t bothered by her back story like some other people were was Robin was written as a fighter. Her backstory, being raped and left for dead, she wanted to fight it and become stronger and overcome a terrible situation. After reading book after book of women falling victim from men, this was refreshing to finally read.

[End Spoilers]

Rowling definitely, I believe, always had a good control of her characters. I found myself sympathizing many characters, loving some, hating others. The relationship that Robin and her fiancé had was complicated and I found myself really disliking him. Robin and Cormoran had an excellent build between the two, from awkward coworkers, to great and close friends, to perhaps flirting with the border of something more.

Please, I want more books!

Book Review · Books

“Remember me this Way” by Sabine Durrant

2 1/2 / 5 Rating

Amazon link / Goodreads link

Remember me this Way by Sabine Durrant is about a woman named Lizzie and the aftermath of her husband’s death, Zach. in the year Anniversary of his car crash, she visits the site of the death to deliver flowers, and hopefully to find closure and to move on and to deliver flowers. But, upon arrival, she finds another bunch of flowers with the attached note for Zach. This starts the spiraling downfall for Lizzie and her sanity.

Lizzie feels like she’s being followed. She’s meeting strange and mysterious connections to Zach, like a student he has tutored that she didn’t know about. Her friends don’t believe her and think she has gone mad. Has she? It’s quite possible she has.

The story reads in Lizzie’s point of view (present), and Zach’s point of view (past) as diary entries. I didn’t much care for his diary entries. While it did bring all of the events together with the past and present during the span of a year, I think a different way would have been a better solution, for a sociopath killer that lives for control and secrecy to have that detailed of a diary written on his laptop (which had a pretty obvious password locking it), was rather hard to believe. It also did not read like a diary as well.

Some chapters had seemed to drag as well. A lot of the times, it had felt like nothing really even happened. I wanted more misleads, teases, and tention. Sometimes, it just felt like I was being stalled in some mud. I wanted it to get to the point.

And the protagonist, Lizzie…oh boy. The depth to her was as shallow as a kiddie pool during a drought. I feel as if she was to be this beyond broken person without any hope of any growth. Pining over her sociopath husband constantly, wishing he would be with her, becoming the victim. Taking his abuse became what she needed to do (“How can I blame him for how he sometimes treated me?” was one of her quotes). Now, I have thought hard about what I should write about this sort of thing. Victims of sexual, verbal, pysical, and emotional abuse are a huge deal. Victims should seek professional help immediately, and such horrible actions should be taken seriously and dealt with before it becomes much worse. Now then. Am I the only one who thinks that the “victimized woman falls for the killer/sociopath mystery book” is almost a trend in books now (“They seem to be the perfect couple, but they have SUPER SECETS!”)? It almost romanticizes the concept of women falling for the broken person to try and fix them. I am already tired of it.

[Spoilers]

The student that Zach was tutoring started an affair with him, but turned out to be his own daughter. That made me absolutely cringe with disgust. When that fact was revealed, I actually groaned aloud and sighed, “ahh, jeez…”

That character grew old quickly. From how she talked, to the relationship she had with Lizzie, had me furrowing my eyebrows and sighing. With Lizzie allowing and being very okay with her taking her keys and making a copy of the house key, rearranging the furniture, alphabetizing the books, stealing Zach’s laptop, allegedly poisoning the dog, trashing the apartment, stealing the car and finally threatening to throw the dog into traffic was a bit much to believe Lizzie’s character to be that much of a pushover and to think that is just typical teenager behavior (especially since she is a public school librarian).

[End Spoilers]

So there you have it. Over all, not the worst book I have read, and definitely not near the best. There were some moments when actual emotion had come out of me because of some good writing. Would recommend to folks that cannot get enough of thriller books and they are really wanting something new.

Book Review

“Speaker for the Dead (Ender’s Saga, #2)” by Orson Scott Card

4/5 Rating

Amazon Link / Goodreads Link

I am very glad I picked this book up. Everyone I have talked to concerning this book, the comparison of this novel and with Ender’s Game always comes up. It’s very easy to do. Even the author, Orson Scott Card, goes straight to comparing the books. They are incredibly cohesive, and one novel shouldn’t be read unless the other will be read as well. So, comparing this book to Ender’s Game, Speaker For the Dead takes on the more psychological route, rather than a military heavy, action novel. But I really enjoyed that difference. The idea of living with “aliens”, with a greater understanding, being respecful to one another, and not needing to change the other “species” had an incredible message, and it has just as a powerful message now and when it was first published. Some parts, I thought, were rather slow, and at times, I found myself loosing interest and my mind would wander slightly. I’d snap back to the novel, and continue on, which I am very glad I did.

I recommend reading this book, along with Ender’s Game, at least once. The ending, to me, was almost a punch to the gut to me. I only hope you have this much emotion when you read it as well.

Book Review · Books

“We Were Liars”, by E. Lockhart

2/5 Rating

Amazon Link / Goodreads Link

Today, I have finished the young adult novel “We Were LiarsBy E. Lockhart. This young adult novel is about a young woman growing up in her summer vacation island home with her mother, along with the rest of her large, white, poised, and rich family with their own houses on this island. One year, there was an accident,  and Cadence, our main character, is left confused with large migraines and many memories lost. She knows life has changed for her dramatically, but she cannot recall why or how.

This novel was recommended to me through a Book Bub reading list as the next thriller that I absolutely needed to read in my lifetime. But, as I was reading through the book, I was waiting for the “thrilling” part. I didn’t feel the least bit nervous, or feeling the will and want to even keep reading. But I did keep reading. For some reason.

I want to talk about the characters for the moment. The main character, Cadence, loves Gat. Her Gat. LOVES her Gat. No matter what. Even though he had a girlfriend that particular summer and he still was okay with kissing and being romantic to Cadence. Her infatuation with her Gat was mind blowing, and I absolutely did not appreciate her character being written like that. Her one true love? Please. I’m sick of young adult novels portraying love like this, and young ladies falling helplessly for these lost soul boys that give nothing in return.

So Cadence, whenever she is not explaining how hopelessly in love with her Gat, she complains about her life and how awful it is. How she doesn’t really enjoy her family, and how she pouted during her all expenses paid trip to Europe, or how every summer, she spends her time in her second home with her “mummy” on their family island with their extended families close by in their own second summer houses. Must be rough to be “old-money Democrat”. I got tired of it. I didn’t buy it. Sure, every teenage has his or her angst, but that lack of appreciation of this world and his/her fortune looses interest who has less opportunity. Assuming.

So, her Gat. A family friend that grew up with them through the summer houses. He did his share of bland complaining as well, but in a different sense. He did mention being uncomfortable being the only non-white person other than the staff of the houses of the island. I thought that was definitely an interesting point, and I wish it would have been expressed differently other than outwardly explaining just that point to Cadence. I wanted to see more uncomfortable situations with him, if that was such a problem with him. If it wasn’t that big of a problem, why did he keep coming back to the island with this family, every year, all summer? In the end, it must have not been a striking point to really think it over. All of his talk about “patriarchy”, and how the world is suffering from poverty, and how there couldn’t be a caring God in this world. All unconvincing arguments, all things that don’t make me believe is that “political boy” as described in the cover description.

The other two that are part of the “liars” group, Johnny and Mirren, are “Cady’s” cousins. They barely made a mark in my memories. Johnny, the silly jock with the knack of “witty” humor that was inappropriately voiced in every sentence he has said in the book, and Mirren a young lady who wants to be a woman with no ambition or goals or hobbies. So, with Cadence, Gat, Johnny, and Mirren, they are called the Liars. They are called this because…well, there was no mention why they were called the Liars. It is because they are just nicknamed that. Just because. Why not? But…why not “The Mistletoe Clan”? Or “The Cuticle Cup Clan”? I don’t know. Shrug.

Spoilers Ahead

So. The ending. Oh God, the ending. It finally comes, and all has been revealed with her memories. Memories that did not trickle from the creek, into the river, into the pond. It exploded into her memories flooding into her head, and all was revealed. It was revealed that Cadence was a murderer. A large plan between the Liars were to burn one of the vacation houses down to the ground, and the feuding aunts that had wanted the Sinclair money, homes, and the recently deceased grandmother’s possessions, will all get along. Patriarchy!

So each member of the Liars took a story of this house and they get to work on dumping gasoline on everything. So far so good. But Cadence, really smart and ahead on this plan, lights a match on the first floor and bounces. But, she didn’t realize that the books on the bookshelf doused in gasoline would light that quickly! Damn, hasn’t she ever been to a book burning? Heh heh….oh God.

The rest of the Liars are in this house still, as well as two dogs that no one realized they were in there, and they all roast. Cadence didn’t realize this until long afterwards, when she looked everywhere outside but inside the house, and realizes it was too late. Somehow they are trapped, and some doors can’t open for some reason. Oh the tension. What will happen. Oh my. She walks to the lake, curls herself up in a ball, and manages to hit her head on some rocks in the water. Nothing like a cool, refreshing swim after arson and murder.

So before this happens, and the Liars are planning this, she is absolutely convinced it is the perfect crime. Well, was it? Apparently it was, after all. Firefighters were on the scene to manage the fire, but absolutely no investigation was done to see if there was any foul play (I’m no firefighter, but I’m 98% certain that they would be able to identify how this fire was started, like the gasoline poured in all four stories of the building?). They family just let Cadence heal and let her regain the memories on her own, to dote on her, to give her chocolate and presents, and to make sure she feels love, dammit. There is no arrests, prisons or jail, mental institutions, investigations, anger, negative emotions toward Cadence, not one finger pointed. And the end of the book, Cadence says that she will endure. Wow, powerful lady. I wish I could be rich.

And to top it off, the most recent year that she spend at this island, the Liars group, Gat, Mirren, and Johnny, have only been ghosts. Figment of her imaginations. They say goodbye to each other when she finally figures out the devastating summer, and they all walk into the lake, with Cadence watching, saying that she can endure. Face. Palm. Wouldn’t she be worried that these “ghosts” have been haunting her? That she thinks them completely real? No, I suppose not. I want to know what pills they were prescribed to her for her migraines.

Spoilers Ended

I had a lot of problems with this book, but it certainly wasn’t the worst book that I have read. I suppose I’ll give it that. I wouldn’t really recommend this book to anyone either. I think this book had potential, but it just fell a little flat for me. Sorry friends, this wasn’t the one for me, and perhaps this isn’t the book for you either.

Thoughts

Stitching, Time, and an Adult

Ah, the art of blogging and website making. Some people certainly have the knack for it. They live for it. Their hands shake over keyboards, their breathing rushed, eyes wide, their bullet to-do list color coded and extensively stickered and drawn on. I envy those bastards. I picture them unfairly skinny because of their hour run in the morning and yoga sessions and rock climbing in the evenings, their hair perfect always, always refreshed, focused and attention span unwavering.

And yet, here I am. Just off of work in my dirty warehouse clothing, forehead that never stops perspiring because of the AC not working in my apartment in the middle of a brutal Los Angeles summer, and wondering just what the hell I am doing with my life. Ever since I could remember, I have had a website. A blog. A “www.” that I could call my own. It has always intrigued me. A space of my own, my creation. A love. Or, so I thought.

Really digging deep in my colorful forest of a soul, I have realized that for the past 8-10 years, it never was a love, but a sense of duty that I have entitled myself to. And here I am, looking at my grand P&P website with a giant question mark over my head like the Sims. I have tried looking at colorful Pintrest advice to boost my confidence, or to crack some deeply lying code within me.

“Top 10 ways to have a successful blog.”

“Make your website profitable in a week!”

“5 reasons why you should have an online journal.”

Online journal, my ass. Perhaps I have a hard time swallowing advice that tells me to be more open and bare and womanly and witty and a talk about everything when I am a naturally closed up introvert that prefers leather dye and ink stains on my hands than nail polish. But, I suppose those stains and cynicism are me to the core, and channeling that could be the best thing for this blog, or the absolute worst. I don’t know a lot of quilters that use the word “fuck” in every other word in their sentences. Although, if they are out there, I need to meet them.

But, something else is there. Deeper than what chipper women tell me to do.

For as long as I could remember, I wrote. I still have many hand written stories that I have written back in the “overalls and black choker” days of my youth. I even have my first comic that I have written (and illustrated, as you must know) somewhere in the back of my closet. I wrote in leather bound journals (those I did eventually burn. No one needs to hear the whining thoughts of a young girl figuring out that boys are cute), I wrote in my many creative writing classes, I wrote in my blogs, I wrote in many pages of binder paper (bless my mother for keeping a healthy stock of paper in the cabinet above our washer and dryer). But, along the way, it ceased to exist. It just…stopped.

Writing was my first love. I lost myself in it. I never was happy unless I was imagining a new story and wasting away all that ballpen ink. That obsession and passion. Gone. I became afraid of it. I still am. That sense of purpose gone, feeling like I don’t belong. So I began to ask myself what I really wanted with this good ol’ P&P website. I honestly want more from it (and certainly none of the reasons why “5 reasons why you should have an online journal” had to offer me). I want to talk about my life, and revolve books around it. I want to share joy whenever I make a hearty bowl of food. I want to share beauty of my travels. I want to show off my creations that I make in my spare time.

I am absolutely working on some hefty goals for this website, and I am absolutely excited to share them to everyone soon.

Be well, friends.