updated reads (raves & reviews)

So with my new career developing, ive found a lot of additional time for leisure reading. its definitely an added bonus that i didnt foresee. stiff airport chairs, comfy hotel beds, anywhere i get the chance to kill a few hours by reading, i seize it. that being said, this is why i have a fresher list of books ive thoroughly enjoyed & books id rather not have paid good money for. i hope you find this list helpful if not amusing!

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 1.58.21 AMThe Cuckoo’s Calling & The Silkworm – Rolbert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
So i reluctantly finished The Cuckoo’s Calling expecting the enrapturing way JK Rowling wrote The Harry Potter series, however either murder mystery really isnt my cup of tea, or she just isnt convincingly able to enthrall me in the heated pursuit of murder suspects. not to say i dont enjoy the plot, but i find myself more disenchanted with how difficult it is to follow each character’s motives & whereabouts when i dont feel they’re developed enough for me to fully care. im more interested in racing to the end just to know whodunnit as opposed to stringing together clues & hunches on my own & seeing if my gut is correct at the end. when i was little i loved The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude C. Warner & occasionally read Nancy Drew books as well. sure the amount of violence is PG13 and nowhere near as gory as JK Rowling’s novels, but at least the characters kept me guessing. I bought The Silkworm & finished it in hopes of Rowling being able to win me over the way i was devoted to her wizarding tales, but it just wasn’t so. she has the third installment of this Cormoran Strike series to be released October 20th this year, but i dont intend on wasting my time. fooled me once, shame on you, fooled me twice shame on me. fool me thrice.. & im an idiot who doesnt learn to spend my money more wisely.

10% Happier – Dan Harris
In the preface, Harris openly admits to almost naming his book, “The voice in my head is an asshole.” That itself was the clincher. After seeing YouTube guru Kalelkitten rave about this book, I thought what’s the harm? Im not easily convinced into reading self-help books or anything of that nature, although my bf is pro any “posi-vibe” reading, & get rich smarter type genres, i usually steer far away from that entire section of the bookstore. reading is supposed to be fun, & take me to other realms, not be a debbie downer about how i spend my money inappropriately & am going to be unable to retire until im in my grave with the way i shop. however, this book has convinced me that there is hope for the self-help genre. it just has to be written by a smart, funny, sarcastic author for me to like it. the tiresome repetition of books like The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman, The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, & Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki (yes.. i caved & tried some of my bf’s suggestions) isnt present in 10% Happier. i hate how tedious step programs can be, & how annoying chapters on counseling this couple or that couple lead to this result, even if the factors differ from my own. 10% Happier gives you a very real, honest, candid perspective on how much happier taming the inner voice we all have really can make you — which ultimately he claims is only by 10%. Harris takes on the challenge of understanding various cultural norms to be at peace with himself, & eventually finds a balance within his life. this book single handedly convinced me to sign up for yoga classes & work on inner self-loathing. there’s no preachy “this is how you should achieve happiness” message, & instead just a narrative in which you follow Harris’ personal journey to enlightenment.

Glitch – Hugh Howey
Howey has quickly made it to one of my favorite authors. any book i see with his name on it that i havent read, i’ll purchase without hesitation. Glitch is a short story & sadly too quick of a read, and my only qualm (which is not truly a negative mark at all) is that i always end up wanting more. Robots who begin to show signs of having a mind of their own? Acting independently of what we program them to do? Sounds very movie-esque but no one quite writes like Howey does to pull it off quite so well.

The Farseer Trilogy – Robin Hobb
So im verrry late to the party on this — but its a good thing. for if i had found Hobb earlier, id be stuck like i am with George R.R. Martin, with no end in sight to his series.  Hobb has a good 6 trilogies under her belt, so although ive completed the first one, & am steadily making my way through the second, im hoping i can savor her novels enough so that i never catch up to the point where she’s still writing, & im still waiting. the best way i can describe Hobb’s books is if Harry Potter & Game of Thrones had a baby. but its a cute baby. it got all the best traits of both series. it has the magical elements of Harry Potter, but the time frame & characters are very reminiscent of Game of Thrones.  What i found frustrating about Game of Thrones was how quickly Martin threw in so many important characters, & it was hard to keep track of alliances & names — not so in Hobb’s.  Now i can only hope that HBO doesn’t find this old treasure & ruin it into tv oblivion.

I am currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tart, the second trilogy set, Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb, & started but didnt complete Sand by Hugh Howey (i put it on pause because at the time i wasnt devoting it the full amount of attention it deserved).  I also finished Fight Dirty by CJ Lyons but it was so “meh” that it wasnt even worth truly reviewing, & The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is still on my must read list. im also so happy that All The Light We Cannot See is getting widely known & duly recognized.  At least twice a week i’ll see a guest with that book in tow & i wont hesitate to praise Anthony Doerr’s writing to high heavens. Lemme know in the comments if there’s any novels i should add to my short queue :]

– mm.

future reads: a wishlist

prior to ebooks & audiobooks, i used to get excited for trips & camps because of the necessary bookstore run prior.  my mom & i would go to borders & spend hours there looking for books to take with us to make plane rides, & downtime more bearable. i made it a rule to find at least three candidates, because usually one ends up being not as interesting as i first thought.  now that there’s downloadable samples for ebooks, the process of finding books that suit my taste better has become a lot easier (although i do miss my bookstore trips with my mom)

here are a few books that are on my wish list, that i hope to finish by the end of this year, maybe you’ve read a few & can yay/nay my choices, or suggest others i’ve missed :]

the Cuckoo’s Calling  – *Robert Galbraith
murder mystery. not my typical genre, but again, trying out new things here. the main character, detective cormoran strike is hired to investigate the death of a supermodel. most call it suicide, one believes it not.  strike must search through the money, glam, & bullshit that the privileged class revels in, in order to solve the mystery.

if i enjoy this one, i’ll surely download The Silkworm which is book 2 in this series

*better known as J.K. Rowling, this was the first series she wrote after the monumental success of Harry Potter, & she didn’t want the success of one venture to determine the outcome of another, so she wrote under a pseudonym.  however fans, true to their nosy, sneaky selves, found it out soon enough, although according to the reviews, “Robert Galbraith” stands alone as an incredible author, independent from Harry Potter.

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
i was drawn to this one because in the plot summary, it describes a boy who lost his mother at an early age, and deals with loss, alienation, and a connection to a painting that reminds him of her, into adulthood. this piece of art is his connection to the underworld of art — something im intrinsically fascinated about. & it doesn’t hurt that its a Pulitzer prize winner too right?

Sand – Hugh Howey
you cant say you didnt see this coming right? if you read my “confessions of a bookworm” post, you’d understand my love for hugh howey.  did you know when he originally started out his series Wool it’s price point was only $0.99 for the ebook novella? his whole self-publishing career is a covet-able success story.  unlike Wool, Sand’s characters function under lawlessness, a polar opposite to the way life in the silos ran, which i think will make for an interesting commentary between the two works.

Glitch – Hugh Howey
sorry sorry, just one more howey books to the list.  its a short story too! only 5,000 words! so who can say no to that?Fight Dirty -CJ Lyons
im about seventy pages into this book (315 total pages), and im feeling 50/50 about it.  it was free with kindle unlimited, so that always helps ease the pain over wasted words, but im just not convinced that i’ll enjoy it enough to finish it.  morgan is a teenage psychopathic killer, who learned her skills from her father, who is now in jail.  in order to resist the urge to kill, she’s seeking therapy from the husband of one of the witnesses in the case against her father, and working under the other witness who owns a new security firm.  the firm’s first client is a couple who sent their problematic teenage daughter into a treatment center called ReNew, and after getting her early release, she committed suicide.  the parents want to sue ReNew for her suicide, but the only way to do that is to get inside the center– which is the challenge morgan must face.

The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman
tom is a war veteran, who seeks a place of solace on janus rock. he becomes a lighthouse keeper, and is isolated on this island with just his wife, isabel.  they struggle to have a child, and after miscarriages and a stillbirth, isabel discover a boat washed up on shore with a dead man and a baby. tom and isabel’s yearning for a child of their own is so profound that it alters tom’s otherwise sound judgment, and they don’t report the missing child.  the family returns to the mainland and discover their decision has affected others in the world as well.
a side note is that this book is being adapted to the big screen under spielberg’s dreamworks.  if the novel is amazing, then i also have the movie to look forward to as well!

let me know if there are others you think i should add to this list, or if you have read any of the aforementioned titles, because i’d love to hear your thoughts on them!  also, if you’d like to hear my reviews of these as i finish them, please let me know as well :]

– mm.

confessions of a bookworm

okay, i admit, im kind of a bookworm.

you’re more likely to find me at home reading, munching on some late night snacks (chips, arare, kimchi bowls) with a chilled bottle of stella rosa sparkling wine in hand, than out at the clubs, or bars.  although that’s not to write bars out of the question entirely — i love darts, & am new to the game of pool so it still has that exciting edge to it

i think my bookworminess stems from summers when i was little, being a part of my mom’s “summer adventure program.”  it included: adventures to the library, homemade lunches, & a mandatory book list that needed at least ten completed titles added to it by the end of the summer. (she’s a teacher, go figure. and her only enlisted members of this program were my brothers, my cousins, and myself)  during the school year, after homework & dinner, we had “quiet time” which meant no tv permitted (my dad hated that rule) for an hour, where we’d all sit & read quietly, sometimes i’d volunteer to read aloud & my siblings and mom would listen.

now that college is done, i find myself feeling very lethargic, & slow-minded if i’m not actively reading & writing.  i don’t like feeling like i have to scramble to find the correct descriptor, or as if i’m lazily “dumbing” down the way i speak because im not challenging myself to learn new words.

so, to help others out there that are like me, in need of titles of worthwhile reads on-hand in order to get the ball rolling (it’s like going to gym, it gets easier once you start, i promise) i’ve compiled a *list of my favorite books as of 2014.  keep in mind, it’s starting off small & to the point, because i’ve read a lot of books, but not all of them make it to the favorites.

*they’re in no particular order, because i’ve only fairly recently found that i like multiple genres so have at it, whichever suits you best :]

How to Kill a Rock Star – **Tiffanie deBartolo
This is the first book that comes to mind when a friend or coworker needs a recommendation for a new book to read.  A young adult romance novel, H.T.K.A.R.S is about Eliza, an aspiring journalist who move to NY to make it big.  her passion for music, and a little coincidence, causes her to meet Hudson, a musician.  the novel is told from both their perspectives, and you experience their jealousies, fears, selfishness, and selflessness carried through witty dialogue & an all too familiar raw vulnerability.  i identify with Eliza, and find myself torn between Hudson & Loring.  If you read it, please comment and let me know: are you team hudson?  or team loring?

“Eliza has the sky in her eyes and I’ve always wanted to touch the goddamn sky.”

There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely. And I’m guessing that once you’ve discovered this distinction you can’t go back to solitary confinement without serious emotional repercussions.”

“Note to self: Always remember how lucky you are to wake up next to someone who thinks you’re the shit.”

**this author has only written 2 books in her writing career, the first being God-Shaped Hole which is not as well-crafted as H.T.K.A.R.S, but it’s a good read too. If for some reason Ms. deBartolo ever reads this: pleaseeee write another novel. your talent is too amazing to end at two books :] with much love & encouragement, your friendly bookworm.

Wool (Onibus) – ***Hugh Howey
Wool is for the rebel reader, the anti-establishment, down with conformity, & exploiting government corruption enthusiast in you. typically, this isn’t my cup of tea  (i usually stick to young adult romances, but like i said, i’m learning to explore other genres) but after the short kindle sample, i was hooked.  it’s part of a trilogy, with the 2nd & 3rd installment being Shift, and Dust.  it’s a little too complicated, and has too many dark secrets to simply summarize, but basically the earth isn’t as we know it to be now.  something has happened to make it unlivable, so the survivors, the last hope for humanity lives in underground silos. its a strict system that people abide by, live by, not knowing any other way of doing it — but there are a handful of rebels, that sense that they weren’t made to live like this. asking questions & challenging authority creates fear, & for those fighting for freedom, their greatest wish becomes their punishment: the freedom to venture outside the silo.

“And now you see why some facts, some pieces of knowledge, have to be snuffed out as soon as they form. Curiosity would blow across such embers and burn this silo to the ground.”

“We are born, we are shadows, we cast shadows of own, and then we are gone. All anyone can hope for is to be remembered two shadows deep.”

***Howey has a new book unrelated to the silo series called Sand, but i have yet to read it. it’s on my wishlist of books for the future :]

All the Light we Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Before the thrilling plot, before the intricately crafted characters, the first thing i was drawn to was the lyrical tone of the book.  Doerr knows how to move the plot along, while still keeping the narrative poetic.  overall, it’s beautifully written.  as for the genre, this novel is more historical fiction, based on WWII france and germany.  the storyline jumps between the past and what is perceived as the present, and is told from main characters of both sides of the war.  marie-laure is a blind french girl who is daughter to the key maker for the natural museum of history in paris, which holds a stone that is sought after by many due to the legends surrounding it, and needs to be protected.  werner is an orphan who has a great curiosity for science, which enables him to get further than the coal mines most orphans are predestined to work at. i dont want to reveal too much, but the paths of these main characters, & other supplementary characters are all woven into a complicated, sometimes tragic, storyline which i was addicted to until the very end.  on a side note though, i think this novel would make a great movie someday, & would really hope if that ever happens, that the movie doesn’t miss/mess up the lyrical aspect of the text.

“She walks like a ballerina in dance slippers, her feet as articulate as hands, a little vessel of grace moving out into the fog.”

“His voice is low and soft, a piece of silk you might keep in a drawer and pull out only on rare occasions, just to feel it between your fingers.”

im sorry i dont have more favorites yet. i figured it would be kind of redundant to list the books that are already very popular (for good reason) that i’ve enjoyed like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Fountainhead, and many more.

please let me know if there are any favorites of yours that i should add to my “future reads” list (which i promise is longer than my favorites :3)

lastly, if you’re curious, i read most of my books on my ipad, using the kindle app so that i can easily have multiple books lined up ready for me. it’s nice because i can download free samples of books im on the fence about as well. i recently subscribed to Kindle Unlimited via amazon, which im finding a lot of new books through. it’s $9.99 a month, with unlimited titles to download & you can also listen to the audiobook version of them for free too!  i understand if you don’t get a lot of reading done every month, it probably wouldn’t be worth it, but for an avid reader like me, it’s definitely worth it.  just something to look into :]

– mm.