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kindle voyage vs. fire

I recently got a new baby, the Kindle Voyage, after using my Kindle Fire for 5-6 years. As a bookworm, I love the convenience of using a Kindle. Not having to order books from Amazon and wait longingly for them to arrive from abroad, being able to carry a tablet-like thing with me at all times without anyone knowing what I was reading, and the fact that it’s always cheaper than buying a physical book completely bought me over. However, I do still own a collection of physical books so I can have the best of both worlds. If you’re a user of both forms of reading, you’ll see that they each have their own pros and cons.

In this post, I want to write a first-impressions review on the Kindle Voyage, in comparison to the Kindle Fire. Hope you find it useful!

kindle voyage PROS

  • SCREEN: Unlike the screens that we see on our laptops and tablets, this is an actual e-reader with an E ink screen (I think), which is less damaging to the eyes. This also means that the screen doesn’t give off a reflection when reading outside. This is a major factor for me, as I tend to read at night before bed, and staring at a LCD screen was neither good for my eyes nor for my sleep cycle.
  • SIZE & WEIGHT: It’s noticeably smaller and lighter than a Kindle Fire (it weighs just a bit more than the iPhone 6), which makes it so much easier to carry around and being Rory Gilmore everywhere.
  • FASHION: I definitely think the Voyage makes a better accessory than the Fire, but I may be biased. I got the marble case when I ordered the Voyage, and I love how it makes the e-book so much more stylish. It’s also very lightweight to carry around on your hand, in comparison to the Fire, which is heavier and more burdensome to do so.
  • PAGE TURNER: This one’s a pro and a con. You have PagePress pressure-sensitive sensor on both sides of the Kindle (outside the screen), which is convenient if you want to turn pages back and forth with the hand that you’re reading with. However, it’s not as pressure-sensitive as it could be – I often have to press a few times before I ‘hit’ the sensor. Most of the time, I just on the screen to turn a page, and this never fails me.
  • GOODREADS: I love that the Voyage can be connected to your Goodreads account, and automatically updates on the books that you want to read, are currently reading, and have read.

There are not that many benefits to getting a Voyage over a Fire, but the fact that the screen assimilates that of a book (instead of a laptop screen) really convinced me. There are probably more cons to buying a Voyage over a Fire – which you can read below – but, I am a heavy reader, so for me personally, the choice was clear.

kindle voyage CONS

  • PRICE: The Voyage is by no means a cheap item. And the starting price doesn’t include ‘additional costs’ that might add to the experience of the Kindle. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead and buy it because I’ve used the Fire very regularly for the last several years, and getting a Voyage is a really good investment for me. However, the Fires are now much more cheaper than it was before.
  • COLOR: As you can see below,  everything on the screen is black and white. After having gotten used to the colored screen of the Fire, I have to admit that it took me a while get used to the b&w feel of the Voyage. However, it really isn’t that big of a deal, as most of the books I read rarely have colored illustrations inside the book.
  • (FEW) OTHER USAGES: The Voyage is strictly to read books. This means that, unlike the Fire, you can’t listen to music or play games like on the Fire. Personally I don’t mind at all, as I barely used the Kindle Fire for anything other than books. Though they are not physically books, I treat them just the same.
  • ADS: Ugh, this one is annoying. Book promotions/ads completely cover the lock screen (each time, it’s usually a new book being featured), and it also appears at the bottom of the Homepage. It’s very annoying, and you CAN get rid of them but with an extra cost. I chose not to pay the extra cost, which I’m okay with, but it’ just a detail that still annoys me a little.
  • TECH: The fact that the screen is different to that of a Fire means that the ‘feel’ of it is different as well. The touch is not as immediately responsive as the screens that we’re familiar with, but it’s quite good nevertheless.

Overall, the only con that really bothers me are the ads. The others I can bear, because I pretty much treat the Voyage as if it were a physical book. Ultimately, it really comes down to what you want from the Kindle, and choosing one over the other is just about what you prioritize more.

-Michelle

read the world | reading challenge

A few days ago, I listened to a TED talk about a woman who spent an entire year searching, seeking and reading 196 books from all 196 countries in the world. Her name is Ann Morgan, and she didn’t just read the world. She traveled across countries within her mind, got a glimpse of every culture and custom she came across with. She traveled the world through the eyes of people of different ages, nationalities, customs, and experiences. She did it with the help of many people who supported her along the way, but made the decision and took the steps herself. I want to take on this challenge as well.

I want to live inside the minds of those who have different values to me, who see the world in a completely different way than I do. As a bibliophile, I know how books have and can change a person. Though I’ve read books of different types and genres, but I have also enclosed myself within the Western-based literature. That will change now. As a wanderluster, my traveling experiences have always been intrinsically meaningful and unforgettable in their own unique ways.

By combining these two personal interests together, I shall travel the world.

How many books from how many countries have you read so far? How much do you really know about the world that you live in? Can you really call yourself a true bibliophile if you haven’t even books from most countries?

These were a few of the questions that I asked myself after listening to the TED talk. No matter how much I read and how many genres I touch, I’ll still be living in my happy little bubble if I don’t try to truly step out of my comfort zone. Read books of cultures that completely baffle me, written by authors I’ve never bothered to learn about before. It took Ann Morgan 1 year to complete the challenge, but it will take me at least a few years to choose, get hold of, and read all 196 books. And that’s alright, because the purpose is to achieve this challenge regardless of how long it takes me.

I have made a page to record my progress on this challenge – which I will start by May 2017.

-Michelle

a quiet life | gift from the sea

I mean to lead a simple life, to choose a simple shell I can carry easily – like a hermit crab. But I do not. I find that my frame of life does not foster simplicity.

We owe it to ourselves to have a moment of quiet in our day-to-day lives. Amidst a world in which we are busier than ever, yet can’t seem to find time for ourselves . We should find somewhere we can retreat to in times of need, a place within us. In a world where we envision cutting edge technology making our lives easier, but often fail to see how it has isolated us.

We have willingly imprisoned ourselves in the modern Orwellian era, in which we anxiously clutch to our devices like precious treasures 24/7; in which we can’t live without being virtually connected, yet seem to forget about the physical one; in which we find it a need to know everything that is going on with those around us and beyond.

For it is not physical solitude that actually separates one from other men, not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation.

I think we owe it to ourselves to lead a quiet life at least every once in a while. One without computers and cellphones, TV’s and tablets, wifi and social media, and everything else that robs us of being in the present moment. We owe it to our family, friends and acquaintances to look at them in the eye when we’re talking to them and not our devices that excite us with every new ‘news’ that pops up.

It is when we put all of these distractions away that we can really live a life full of presence. Yes, our lives exists physically, virtually, spiritually, and god knows in what other form – but it is the physical one in which we feel the deepest of our human emotions, in which we learn to behave as a human, and not as slaves to our creations.

The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray. But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of the whole web of human relationships.

It’s impossible to be alone in today’s world. Maybe the elderly or those who haven’t given in to all the access that we have to technology are able to lead a calm, quiet life. But chances are that you can’t. But you can make space for yourself.

You can give yourself one moment every day. Whether it’s in your morning meditation sessions, afternoon jogs, or dinners, you choose when they are. Prioritize this time before you lose it to distractions that will make it harder for you to get away from. It’s not easy, it’s highly tempting, and you might not always care.

But as long as you’re conscious of what’s happening around you, consciously aware, the door is always there for you to make a turn for the better.


The quotes I used for this post are from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift from the Sea“. It’s a book written in 1955, and directed mainly towards women and motherly struggles, but it has become a timeless book that anyone of either gender can find solace in when life becomes too chaotic. Though I haven’t yet finished the book, I have found plenty of lessons that resonate with me within the first few chapters already. I encourage you to read it, too.

-Michelle

how to read more

I find it offensive when someone says something along the lines of “I don’t like to read”,  or “Reading’s boring.”

Bullsh*t. By generalizing your dislike of books based on the previous books that you read and didn’t like is not only erroneous, but offensive to them books! I consider books as my mentors, and sources of entertainment and solace. They are like films, but with much more space for your imagination to run wild.

You only need to find that one book that gets you hooked, and you are on.

establishing your why

Why do you want to read? What purpose do you have? What motivates you?

We can easily classify our motivation to read in 2 ways: extrinsic and intrinsic.

If you want to read because your teacher, parent or someone else asked you to do so, that’s an extrinsic motivation. Your rewards may vary from good grades to praise to awards. And this is a great motivator to start with. But it’s not enough.

The other form of motivation – and usually the harder one to gain – is intrinsic motivation. This means that your desire to read comes because you genuinely find it rewarding for yourself. Reading fiction to improve your imagination. Self-growth books to improve your emotional intelligence. Novels with complex characters to make you more empathetic. If you truly recognize these benefits from your reading, all the other external factors and rewards will not affect your choice to do so, because your purpose to read already goes beyond what’s superficial.

When you reach such conclusion, congrats! You have found your true inner purpose. In my case, I started reading to learn English. That was back when I was in 3rd grade, and poor 8 year-old-me suffered in English classes. So I made myself read a book. Every. Single. Day. And this forceful action that took place for months gradually became a passion that I haven’t let go of, and it’s been 10 years since that event.

how to read in a daily basis

Morning, afternoon, and night. That’s pretty much the three standard parts in our day-to-day basis. The key to reading a little everyday is to ingrain it as part of your routine in at least one part of your day.

The first thing I do every morning (after I get up, brush my teeth, and make my bed) is read while I’m having breakfast. Breakfast = reading time. I have made this such an integral part of my routine that I do it automatically every morning. I know that you, the person reading this, probably don’t have the time to read during weekday mornings, as you probably have to rush off to school or work, but there are always other options!

The “don’t have time” excuse is no longer valid for today. Get yourself a subscription to Audible and find the book you’re most excited to read, and buy it. I know it’s more expensive, but if you value time and knowledge over money, it’ll be worth it. The thing about audiobooks is that you can multitask at the same time. If you’re on the bus or driving – listen to Audible. If you’re walking to work or exercising – listen to Audible. If you’re painting mindlessly or making collages – listen to Audible. As long as your mind can focus on the story, you can listen to the book.

Get comfortable reading everywhere during the day. It’s great to have a reading spot at home, where you can curl up comfortably with natural lightning right above you, but you’re not always going to be home, so you gotta learn to read in uncomfortable situations too. These, for me, are public places where the chair I’m sitting on (if there’s a chair) is not as comfortable, and there’s a lot of noise around me. Something that you can do to train your resistance to audio distractions is by listening to music while you read. This will help you train your mind to focus more on your reading, and make the music become just background noise. (This is completely based on my experience, so I can’ assure you that it will definitely work. But it’s worth a try!)

And lastly, I (try) to read every night before bed. Most times I’m just too tired to concentrate on a book, which is why I highly suggest reading FICTION before bed. If you read non-fiction (e.g. self-help), it will most likely cause your thoughts to wander too much, and hence disrupt your sleep. By reading some light fiction, you’ll forget about all the worries you have and lose yourself in the story. Of course, this may depend on your personality and preferences, but there’s a reason kids like bedtime stories 😉

tips to get your inner bookworm kickin’

Throughout my reading journey, I have found what I call my ‘reading personality’. I don’t just force myself to read, and that’s it. No, no, no. I take a series of steps to ensure that I’m always reading, no matter what. I guess you can call these reading hacks:

  • I take my bible- I mean, Kindle– everywhere. It has a very pretty case (which you can see in all the images above), so it makes the perfect accessory for me to carry.
  • Expand your book genres as well as book types. Have books about fiction, comics, business, mystery, and even coloring books if they make you happy (they sure make me happy), make sure you have at least a few in print, electronic and audio. That way, books will surround you (muahahah).
  • I always have 3+ current reads. And they’re usually of different genres, so there’s always something I can read depending on my mood.
  • I go to bookstores at every given opportunity. Once there, I can browse books that I find interesting and note them down on Goodreads. I might buy a book or two, but normally I’ll then go home and start reading them all on my Kindle. This is so that I don’t have to deal with the burden of book weight, and because Kindle books are always cheaper.
  • Buy books in print if they have a lot of visual content/diagrams. Or just buy them all in print, if you like the touch and smell of books. Oh, I also like to showcase them pretty books on my shelves, obviously.
  • You will be able to call yourself a bibliophile. It’s something that everyone can do, but not everyone does. And every bibliophile knows what a non-bibliophile is missing. Join the club.

I know that this was a (long) post about reading, which is not everyone’s cup of tea. But I do believe that it’s a great way to become an autodidact, and to take control of how and what you learn, as well as your actions and motivations. Like many activities, reading is something that, while may be initially challenging, can become such an integral and rewarding part of your life.

So, good luck!

-Michelle

Education Doesn’t Come From School

The title is a bit too dramatic, I’ll admit, but please, allow me to elaborate in the post below.

From a young age, I have valued school as the most important educational focus of my life. Naturally, I was led to believe that school would lead to college to masters/PhD to a job to a family to a stable life. It seemed like the most reasonable transition from childhood to adulthood. And I still value my academic education enormously, but I think it’s time that we shifted our perception of ‘education’ to the way that it should actually be:

Education is not confined to the classrooms anymore. A few decades ago, you had your holy teacher who knew everything you wanted to know about, say, English. He was your mentor, consultant, and dictionary. Today, you can learn English for free online. Online resources, books, people. I believe that I learned English faster by reading books on my own than by attending class. The key? Get creative. Look around you. Everything is resourceful.

Learning about life is important too. The fact that today’s generation is finding it increasingly hard to get a job with ‘just’ a college degree (and hence have to get a masters or PhD) means that our lives become more centered in getting to college. For those who are competing for the so-called top colleges? It’s a heck of an arms race. It’s not just about getting a 4.0 GPA, it’s about filling your resume with spectacular extracurriculars, jobs, and whatnot. I’m not against this – you learn a lot about yourself by opening yourself to so many opportunities.

But in the midst of this hectic life, we give up something else: how to become independent. I finished school last year, and I’m in my gap year at the moment. Only after several months off school did I see how much I had missed from life. I was so focused about my grades and resume that I gave up the things that I should know how to do by now. Only this year did I start prioritizing mundane tasks like cooking, driving, doing things on my own, and becoming an adult. We want to prepare ourselves as best as possible for college and career life, but we must also know how to survive in the real world.

Everything is a learning experience. You should know that by now. I know that, in high school, I learned much more outside class than I did in class. I value all the knowledge and skills that my courses gave me, but I have pretty much forgotten what I learned in those year-long classes by now. What I do remember is the experiences that have shaped me who I am: knowing what it means to detach from your own ego and be humble (through volunteering), be a true leader (in school spirit activities), bring out my inner artistic self (through music concerts), and so on. Even social outings proved to be a valuable experience in my identity. Through these events, I realized that I am not like many people around me. I don’t enjoy parties, drinking, or going to ‘reunions’. And it took me a while to realize that it’s okay being like this.

I could have learned none of this in any class. And it’s of extreme value to me because it has shaped who I am, and it continues to do so. Getting to know myself is one of the most important things that we all must do, because without it, we wouldn’t know who we are. We wouldn’t know what to do with our lives, let alone choose what college classes to take. We would part of the broken ‘system’ that only encourages us to follow their lead like puppies on a leash. Even if we are the Alphas of our society, we would still be part of a system that does not yet teaches us to think for ourselves.

Self-learning is our best education. Everything I’ve talked about comes down to this. If you can’t self-educate yourself, you might as well be a lost puppy in this world. The skill of self-learning will give you the power to learn anything and everything you want to know to give you the best life possible. I built a Bridge Year Bucket List, mainly to keep track of the things that I need to learn before college. But as the year went on, I realized that only 1/6 of my list consists of academic education. The rest are things that I should have done while at school, but didn’t do because of… school. These are things related to health and fitness, my true passions – writing and reading, volunteering, music, creativity, etc. These things make me happy, and though I do take class to develop some of these things, most of them I do on my own.

I have barely attempted to learn by myself before this year, and learning to do so this year has taught me one important thing: I know nothing about life. It’s quite the motivation that I need to focus my life on the things that truly matter to me the most.

Get out of your comfort zone. I think I may be getting too off-topic here, but I would just like to add one more thing to this post: get the hell out of your comfy seat and go do things that you don’t want to do solely because you ‘fear’ you’re not good enough. When we step out of our comfort zones, we begin to think in so many imaginative ways. It is only then that we can truly get to know ourselves.

One of the best ways to do this, personally, is to travel. Not only do you get to visit a new place – you get to talk to people, learn a different language and culture, and become more accepting of the world that surrounds you. If you currently are unable to travel, the best option is to open yourself to your second life: books.

world-map-watercolor

Misty Prose

The Godfather | Review

Book Info

  • Date: 1969
  • Author: Mario Puzo
  • Genre: Crime, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Drama, Classic
  • Rating: 5/5

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Film Info

  • Date: 1972
  • Director: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Screenplay: Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola
  • Rating: 3.5/5

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The novel is the best crime book I’ve ever read. A combination of historical fiction, drama and thriller, I would consider this as a timeless classic. The level of character depth and wit is just top-notch. The film, however, ruined The Godfather for me. I didn’t expect the film to match the book in terms of intensity, but unfortunately, I did not even enjoy it. The film left out a lot of details and implications that I couldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t read the book.

Keep reading to see my full review and analysis!

Book Review

The novel is divided into 9 books (sections), each told from a perspective of a different character. It is through these perspectives that the reader can understand the history of the main characters, where they come from and why they do what they do. The story revolves around the Corleone Family, run by Don Vito Corleone (aka the Godfather) until his eventual downfall. This Family is one of the few organized Mafias in America – and one of the most powerful ones. The Mafias consider themselves a separate entity as equally, if not more, powerful as the government.

The plot picks up the Family when it’s in conflict, and we’re shown all the negotiations, bloodsheath, deaths, and more negotation, that goes on before everything can be settled once again. It all gets more complicated when important people conspire agains the Corleones and end up murdered, because then the desire for vengeance is real.

I went into this book with barely any knowledge of what a Mafia is, and some snippets of historical references – such as alluding to Al Capone – put this novel into perspective. This novel is set around the 1940’s and 1950’s, and though as a 21st century person I felt frustrated by the fact that communication between parties was so hard to arrange back then; but I was also surprised by how swiftly they organized their meetings and organizations nevertheless.

Corleone was one of the biggest Mafia men in the country with more political connections than Capone ever had.

The language really captivated me. Mario Puzo is an American author, but of Italian descent. I could see his Italian accent permeate through the paper, especially because the Corleone Family is Italian as well. (And this was just perfect for me, as I’m currently learning Italian myself as well) Though this particular use of language made the novel less linguistically flawless, it did help establish a suitable Italian-American ambient for this novel.

There are so many central themes in this book that entranced me. Weirdly, understanding how and why the Mafia Families exist enabled me to see the corruption of politics. These Families exist because they don’t believe in society, they don’t believe that they will get the lives they think they deserve. And so they take the matter into their own hands. I learned about the traditions and customs of the Mafias. Just like a government has its own set of laws and rules, so do the Mafias. These rules include not relying on the public legal system to solve your problems and the role of ‘friendship and loyalty’ (I put them in apostrophe because these connections are basically bound by chains of favors, not voluntary friendship).

The Corleones, by making their way up in society because they know that the government is not fair, are actually representing the corruption in society themselves. They exploit their power and connections to get what they want. They disregard hard work, education and everything that an individual can do to get the best life possible, and replace that with negotiations, money and influence. It’s an exaggeration of how organizations run today in our society, really.

“Never get angry,” the Don had instructed. “Never make a threat. Reason with people.” The word “reason sounded so much better in Italian, ragione, to rejoin. The art of this was to ignore all insults, all threats; to turn the other cheek.

Oh, the characters. I could easily go into depth for each one, but I think it’ll be more efficient if I analyse them based on rank:

  • The Family men. This includes Don Vito Corleone and his sons, mainly. They run the Family business – that is, they run the oil business and make the schemes to get ‘unreasable’ people killed. Don Corleone is the most respected character in his circle, as he built up his empire on his own. Though none of his sons match Don Corleone’s strength and intelligence, Michael is the closest one to his father.
  • The loyal men. Like the name suggests, this includes those loyal to the Family – by ‘loyal’, it means that Don Corleone has helped them with a favor in the past, a favor that they must return. Don Corleone has a lot of loyal people surrounding him, as he believes in helping not only his family, but also his family’s friends and those who come to the Don for friendship.

Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.

  • The enemies. Those who have a certain amount of power, and/or those who are not willing to accept the Corleone’s negotiations. They usually end up dead, or mourning over the dead of a close one. There are a lot of them in this novel, and it will surprise you who they are in the end.

…a friend should always underestimate your virtues and an enemy overestimate your results.

There’s also the women of the novel. This includes all the wives and/or girlfriends of the main characters. In the novel, they are established as understanding, strong and supportive women with unconditional love towards their partners. They have no say in the family business whatsoever – it’s roughly 70 years ago, after all. This puts them in a tight situation, and those who choose to stay with their husbands, knowing the danger of their jobs, have to be incredibly emotionally strong. There are good husbands like Don Corleone, and cheating bastards like Sonny and Carlo (Connie’s [Don’s daughter] husband). Though the men have to deal with the ugly business and bloodshed, their primal savage sex instincts are still there. It was horrible reading and watching these parts.

I apologize if this book review was slightly confusing. There are so many things to talk about, and I tried to find the balance between revealing the important details, but not so much as to spoil them completely (if you haven’t read the book yet).


Film Review

The movie disappointed me. I believe it tried to replicate and respect the novel as much as possible, but it was merely impossible for it to captivate the multiple perspectives and give all characters the attention that they deserved.

(*Spoiler alert*) I was particularly disappointed by the ending, when Mike becomes the new Don Corleone. He became from a respectable Dartmouth man, to this stubbornly empowered man by the end. It doesn’t even end like the book, where there’s at least some sense of closure for the characters. Nope. Nothing. The tender love Mike had for Kay Adams in the book was nowhere to be seen in the film, which leads me to my next point:

The lack of female presence in the films. Oh, the women might as well not been present. It seemed like they tried to implement them at the beginning of the film, but then pushed aside their development as the film went on. They became solely concubines, wives and mothers – without any of the love that a man should give. Without the novel, I could not have understand what the women were thinking throughout the film.

Maybe it’s because I’m ignorant about the 20th century film industry, or maybe it’s because I watched the film after I had started reading the novel. Either way, I did not enjoy the film’s screenplay nor character development. By cutting out scenes from the book and making the film more obscure, I was not able to fully appreciate Mario Puzo’s art. I’ve always liked books more than the film adaptations, but this is one example where I find the contrast incredibly obvious.

Misty Prose

Harry Potter | Book Tag

Hogwarts Day was a few days ago, but it’s never too late to celebrate it! I’m sharing with you the Harry Potter Tag created by Bookidote. I’m currently on a blogging hiatus (but I will be back and strong next week!). I’m taking a break to do this book tag – which I always love to do, because they refresh my memory of the books I’ve read this year, and they can also be helpful book recommendations!

Note: You’re immediately tagged if you’re a Harry Potter fan 😉


Important rule: you can’t use any of the HP books in the answer.

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a book you found

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. (There’s a voice in my head telling me off for messing with a timeless classic). I delved into the novel thinking that it was going to be another 1984 classic, but I was met with a completely different dystopia – and I very much enjoyed that, because, unlike 1984, the novel is portraying our actual reality. It’s a slam on our faces.

But I did not like the way the characters were developed. At all. It was really hard to empathize with any of them, except for maybe John – but even his personality was hard to feel pitiful for at times. I give great importance on character development in novels, because they are the ones that can either pull me in or push me away. In this case, though the characters showed how our inner nature is, I felt them as too… blunt.

alohomoraa book you found

I would say The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, but I never finished the series… so I’ll go with Cinder by Marissa Meyer, which I finished in a bit less than a month. I’m still not over how much I love the characters. Cinder. Iko. Kai. Scarlet. ‘Captain’ Thorne. Cress. Wolf. Dr Erland (RIP btw – if I spoiled this for you, oops!). And not Winter (didn’t like her).

accioa book you found

The A Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R.R. Martin *squeals (I know this is not just *one* book, but spare me the criticism). Just LOOK AT THIS LEATHERBOUND BEAUTY RIGHT HERE!

Image result for a song of ice and fire leatherbound

avadakedavraa book you found

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I know – it’s a HP “book”. If you ask me, NO. I do not accept this play as a Harry Potter canon I will never accept it It was a poorlywrittenfanfictionlalalaItdoesn’texist. Yeah. That’s how much that book killed me. Figuratively, and literally when I was flipping through the damn pages.

confundo

a book you found
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read the whole book a few years (?) ago, and by the time I finished the book, I don’t think I could even tell you what the main plot was about. I usually find it hard to follow fantasy books (except for Game of Thrones, obviously). I plan on re-reading it, and the rest of the series, this year. I’ll probably watch the films first, though.

epectopatronum

a book you found

Mm, probably Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Eyre. The contrast in personality between the 2 sisters, Elinor and Marianne, just resonated so much with what I emotionally am, and what I aspire to become, personality-wise.

spetumsemtraa book you found

It would have to be The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. I saw the film first – it made me feel uneasy – and then I read the book – which didn’t make me feel any ‘easier’. Just to give you an overall idea of the book, the story reminisces about the suicides of five (seemingly) normal American teenagers.

adaasda book you found

Gaah there are so many! I’ll probably go with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. The plot revolves around the lives of two boys and their teenage struggles – so cliche, right? But the author knows this, and twists the plot and develops the characters’ complexities in ways that just left me in love with the book.

*Special mention*: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. This was such a beautiful book, taking place in the midst of of World War II *cries*.


I hope you enjoyed this tag! Remember – if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’re immediately tagged!

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A Little Less Lonely | Book Tag

less lonely

I found this book tag, which urges you to think about the books that have affected you most deeply in one way or another. I actually see it as a fun way to write a books recommendations list!

 

A Classic That Got You

A classic book, modern or not, where you identified with the main character, or any of the characters, on a deep level.

There are probably a few of them, but the one that resonates with me the most at the moment is Sense and Sensibility. I identify with the two main characters, Elinor and Marianne, the sensible and the sensitive daughters. Elinor is the person I am, or aspire to be, on the outside, while Marianne is the girl I actually am on the inside. The thing about these two characters is that we can all see a bit of them in each of us: Elinor’s sense of responsibility makes her suppress her own emotions to even her closest loved ones, while Marianne’s emotions get the best of her.

 

A Surprise

A book that surprised you with how much it affected you.

God I could name so many. I’m going to go with two books, which I’ve read quite recently:

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which I absolutely loved (you can read my review here). It has a simple plot, with simple characters, yet the author explores to the most complex extents the feelings and emotions of the characters. It was very rewarding to read the book, because even though I could only identify vaguely with the main characters, it struck me how much I could apply the novel into my life.

2. Junk, which really left a mark on me (my review here). Basically, it revolves around the lives of two rebellious teenagers, and their experience with love, drugs and friendships. Knowing that it was a sensitive topic, I wasn’t too keen about reading the book as I initially felt the writing style was too cheesy – but I was so wrong. I literally felt like I was with them, going through their journey of escaping home, meeting the wrong people and falling into the trap… the story shows a harsh reality in a beautiful way.

 

A Book You Read At Just The Right Time

I was recommended Roadmap by my Economics teacher, right after I found out I was rejected from the colleges I had applied to. Naturally, I was not in a very stable state of mind. This book, though it wasn’t as deep as I hoped to be, was exactly what I needed to get my headspace back together and focus on what I would do to propel me towards the direction that I wanted.

 

A Book That Inspires You

This will probably be quite cliche, but I choose Eat, Pray, Love. It’s a memoir based on the author’s real life experiences, and it’s so enriching. Despite the differences in age and experience-wise, I felt like I was Liz, cherishing the Italian cuisine, connecting with my spiritual self in India, and reaching the key to finding the balance between the two in Bali. I also just happened to read Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It, which is a collection of short articles shared by people who have been inspired by Liz’s book.

I think what inspires me the most about this novel is in how Liz completely exposed her rawness and vulnerability in her memoir. She showed what goes on behind the doors, when the problems can’t be ignored, when nothing is sugar-coated. That’s what so many of us could identify with her. Regardless of how old we are, we all have our battles to fight. But Liz showed that anything can be overcome.

 

A Book That Calms You

I would have to go with The Alchemist. I didn’t love the book, but I found it so… peaceful, amidst the simple writing style and the philosophical events within it. It reminded me a lot of The Tao of Pooh, another philosophical/spiritual book that I came across last year. They both urge you to question about your inner self, and the path that you’re taking, but always in a very positive way. It’s definitely a genre that I’ll continue exploring.

 


I hope you enjoyed this book tag! It was very refreshing to write about, as it makes you bring out the ‘hidden’ purposes or meanings behind the books that you choose to read. If you haven’t already, I tag you to do this book tag! <3

 

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe | Review

aristotle1Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Genres: YA, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Coming-to-age

Rating: 5/5

This will be a spoiler-free review! If you’re unsure about reading this book, I urge you to read this review to convince you.


Synopsis

The story of two Mexican-American boys who become best friends. They each live with both parents, go to school, and – on the surface – lead pretty normal lives. But that’s about it. Aristotle is fighting a battle of his own, with his brother in prison and his feelings in denial. Dante, though more open with his identity, struggles to ‘fit’ into society. Their friendship goes through sh*t, but that is how they ultimately discover their secret of the universe.

Review

Oh my god. First of all, the novel has a stunning, though slightly ambiguous, book cover that absolutely complements the purpose of this book. It had a simple plot, with normal and relatable characters, but with a roller coaster ride that made this book so much more philosophical and thought-provoking than I could have imagined.

The novel is told from the perspective of Aristotle (better known as Ari), who starts off as a 15 year old boy with an inexplicable feeling of anger bottled inside him. His older brother is in prison, his dad has been scarred by the Vietnam War, and his mother suffers silently. Ari struggles coming to terms with his family’s struggles, but these struggles are gradually resolved as they each bring down their barriers for the sake of each other. The biggest battle, though, is the one that Ari denies throughout most of the book. He doesn’t even say it at any point in the novel, despite being the narrator and explaining other occurrences in his life. This is a great example of how the author enables us, the readers, to discover what’s going on, rather than just be told.

We then have Dante, Ari’s best friend and another major character. Dante reads a lot (actual literary works), draws, swims, and is the sweetest and most caring boy. Ari admires him, and together they share this wonderful friendship. Though Dante’s more open personality makes Ari question his own qualities, their acceptance into each other’s lives proves to be the most valuable thing ever.

The friendship between these two boys is… hard to explain. They go through a difficult phase in which Dante moves away for an entire school year and their friendship falls apart, but it’s quite evident that their care for each other will never die, regardless of how much Ari pushes Dante away.

The secondary characters – parents, family and friends – are also portrayed as complicated as they are. The parents are as flawed and hard to understand as the boys are, and their role as secondary characters does not disappoint.

Another thing that I really liked were the themes presented in this novel. Mexican-American identity, race, sexuality, family relationships, friendships, romance and bullying are the main ones, and they are not portrayed as straightforward as one would expect. They are presented subtly, but with a force that impacts you when you realize what is truly going on..

Finally, I found the author’s writing style quite interesting. As it was written from Ari’s point of view, the writing felt a little childish and naive at times, but also curious, questioning and many other feelings that reflected Ari’s headspace. I thought that was quite fitting. But what really got my attention when I finished the book was how the author conveyed the actions in the book. The main actions are described by Ari as they are, but the aftermath of these occurrences convey these slight implications that convey a hidden meaning behind them. The ending fit all these pieces together perfectly, and I really loved that.

To conclude, this book made me really happy. I was wary about the beginning, just like I would be of any contemporary book with typical characters leading a seemingly mundane lifestyle. But this book was… quite something. I have not spoiled the major events of this book, as there are a few major events that you would have to read to see for yourself (don’t let anyone spoil it/them for you!)

 

The Lunar Chronicles | Review

Title: The Lunar Chronicles series (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, YA, Dystopia

Rating: 4/5 (average)


Note: I don’t reveal any massive spoilers as it’s a brief review of each book, but – beware!

lunar chronicles

This series was wonderful to read. Combining the fantasy of fairy tales and the eccentricities of science fiction, Marissa Meyer painted a very unique portrayal of a dystopian world. It’s very much chick-lit, but the series’ characters are so likable in their own flawed ways that it’s impossible not to adore them.

I’ve read 5 of the books in this series, but I have yet to read Stars Above (book #4.5), which will presumably detail more about the main characters’ earlier lives. Below I have written a mini review for each of the 5 books in this series. I read Cinder about a month ago and read the following books fairly quickly, so forgive me if my reviews are not very polished.

Cinder (#1), 3/5

I didn’t know what to expect from this first book, but I have to say that I was slightly disappointed when I first read it. I didn’t find the sudden turn of events in Cinder’s mundane life very… believable, such as Kai’s ‘casual’ strolls in the city to see Cinder, despite the fact that letumosis was literally killing people next door. However, I liked the characters very much: Cinder, Kai, Iko, Peony, and the fact that, as a reader, I was left with so many questions about Princess Selene and Queen Levana’s tyranny was good enough of a reason to urge me to continue reading.

Scarlet (#2), 4/5

I absolutely loved these two characters. Scarlet is my favorite female character of this series, and it was amazing (and heartbreaking) to see Wolf battling between being controlled by the Lunars and his innate instincts to protect Scarlet. I didn’t really like the simplicity of how the saving-Michelle-Benoit mission went on, as it was a really stupid plan, to be honest. Back to Cinder – her friendship with Captain Thorne is just too good to be true. I loved how the progression of both story lines led to the understanding of Cinder’s past, and of them finally meeting up at the end of the novel.

Cress (#3), 5/5

This seems to be the novel that the previous two books have been building up to. We’re introduced to Cress, a genius, but naive, version of lovely Rapunzel. Though the timing in which the other guys rescue Cress is off, creating a lot of drama and desperation, everything works out at the end. Sort of. This enabled us to see a ‘different’ side of each character, such as Thorne, Wolf and – of course – Cress, which just made them even more lovable. There are a few other massive revelations here – which I won’t spoil, but it was quite heartbreaking to see how the people of Earth and Luna are not so disconnected after all.

Fairest (#3.5), 3/5

Reading this book was so painful. This novel is a prequel to the series, and tells the story of how Queen Levana became Queen Levana. She was treated horribly in her early life, as predicted, but it did not cause me to feel more sympathetic towards her, at all. The other main characters have had their share of a cruel childhood, and none of them became Levana. Not even close.

Winter (#4), 5/5

I loved the complexities of this novel. There was a lot of climatic moments, and I gave this novel a 5/5 because there were many (small) details that could have made this novel go wrong, but Meyer addressed each and every one of them so that we are left with zero doubts. However, I did not grow to like Winter very much. It seemed to me that her stunning beauty, good intentions and reputation spoke more about her than what she could have done. I was waiting for that ‘moment’ all throughout the book, but Winter quite disappointed me at the end.

Meanwhile, the other 3 girls were absolutely fierce in their own ways: Cinder as the hero of the entire series, Scarlet as the Alpha of the wolves (and Queen of Sass), and Cress as the absolutely genius programmer and hacker. As for the guys, though they were portrayed as more secondary characters, their charm and strength was evident when they carried out their mischievous plans in Luna: Thorne being the martyr for Cress when they broke into the palace, Jacin being one true loyal guard to Winter, Kai being the best (but kind of useless) political version of an Emperor that he could possibly be under the circumstances, and Wolf being… Wolf.


To recap…

In terms of the plot, you could see how the world expanded by each book. From New Beijing in #1 to France in #2 to the entire world and space in #3 to Luna in #4. This whole dystopian world was meticulously created, and I really think the author did a wonderful job at that.

As for the characters, though I originally had concerns about how the author would make them distinctive, that worry was soon gone. Though the group of protagonists are all ‘good’ characters, it is clear that none of them are flawless. And that is precisely what makes them more lovable.

Finally, the writing style. Though I was not really a fan at first, I then started to see how the author’s style was very complementary to the series. And I actually liked it (this doesn’t happen very often with contemporary authors). Along with the creation of a dystopian universe and unique characters, the writing style did its job to make them possible.

What was your favorite book of the series, or are you planning to read (any of) them?