This is singlehandedly the best used bookstore haul I've ever did. And man, I am so proud. The most expensive books here were 2$, the rest were 50 cents. So here are my books and short explanations about them.
I'm trying to broaden my horizons and read different books and different genres - hence the array of very different books here, and the absence of ya genre (as I'm trying to sty away from it in 2018).
1. Memoirs of Geisha by Arthur Golden
A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.
In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction - at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful - and completely unforgettable.
2. The high mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.
Thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tomás’s quest.
Fifty years on, a Canadian senator takes refuge in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, grieving the loss of his beloved wife. But he arrives with an unusual companion: a chimpanzee. And there the century-old quest will come to an unexpected conclusion.
The High Mountains of Portugal—part quest, part ghost story, part contemporary fable—offers a haunting exploration of great love and great loss. Filled with tenderness, humor, and endless surprise, it takes the reader on a road trip through Portugal in the last century—and through the human soul.
3. The tiger's wife by Tea Obreht
Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Téa Obreht, the youngest of The New Yorker’s twenty best American fiction writers under forty, has spun a timeless novel that will establish her as one of the most vibrant, original authors of her generation.
In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.
But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.
4. Snow falling on cedars by David Guterson
Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric -a masterpiece of suspense-- one that leaves us shaken and changed.
Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award 1995 and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award
San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man's guilt. For on San Pedro, memory grows as thickly as cedar trees and the fields of ripe strawberries--memories of a charmed love affair between a white boy and the Japanese girl who grew up to become Kabuo's wife; memories of land desired, paid for, and lost. Above all, San Piedro is haunted by the memory of what happened to its Japanese residents during World War II, when an entire community was sent into exile while its neighbors watched. Gripping, tragic, and densely atmospheric, Snow Falling on Cedars is a masterpiece of suspense-- one that leaves us shaken and changed.
5. The good earth by Pearl. S. Buck
This tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall.
Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family when flood and drought force them to seek work in the city. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls.
6. Year of wonders by Geraldine Brooks
When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As death reaches into every household and villagers turn from prayers to murderous witch-hunting, Anna must find the strength to confront the disintegration of her community and the lure of illicit love. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a "year of wonders."
Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England, Year of Wonders is a richly detailed evocation of a singular moment in history.
7. The queen of subtleties by Suzannah Dunn
Anne Boleyn and Lucy Cornwallis: queen and
confectioner, fatefully linked in a court
rife with intrigue and treacheryShe was the dark-eyed English beauty who captivated King Henry VIII, only to die at his behest three years after they were married. She was both manipulator and pawn, a complex, misunderstood mélange of subtlety and fire. Her name was Anne Boleyn.
In The Queen of Subtleties, Suzannah Dunn reimagines the rise and fall of the tragic queen through two alternating voices: that of Anne herself, who is penning a letter to her young daughter on the eve of her execution, and Lucy Cornwallis, the king’s confectioner. An employee of the highest status, Lucy is responsible for creating the sculpted sugar centerpieces that adorn each of the feasts marking Anne’s ascent in the king’s favor. They also share another link of which neither woman is aware: the lovely Mark Smeaton, wunderkind musician—the innocent on whom, ultimately, Anne’s downfall hinges.
8. Mind's eye by Hakan Nesser
Håkan Nesser is firmly established as one of the world's bestselling crime novelists. And now the novel that introduced Chief Inspector Van Veeteren is available for the first time in English.
The swift conviction left Van Veeteren uneasy: Janek Mitter woke one morning with a brutal hangover and his wife dead in the bathtub. With only the flimsiest defense, he is found guilty and imprisoned in a mental institution. But when Mitter is murdered in his bed, Van Veeteren regrets not following his gut and launches an investigation into the two murders. As the chief inspector delves deeper, the twisted root of these violent murders will shock even him.
9. A window refined by Kim Cano
On a cold Valentine’s Day in Chicago, Amy White, a young widow who lost her husband to cancer, visits the cemetery and makes an unsettling discovery: a bouquet of fresh daffodils lying in front of her husband’s grave.
Curiosity grows into obsession as Amy searches for the stranger who left the flowers, while keeping her activities a secret from her live-in mother and seven-year-old son. The search leads to an unusual friendship that transforms her world and redefines her life.
10. Emma Brown by Clare Boylan
When Charlotte Brontë died in 1855, she left behind twenty pages of a novel that signaled her most compelling work since Jane Eyre. One hundred fifty years later, Clare Boylan has finished Brontë’s novel, sparking a sensational literary event. With pitch-perfect tone that is utterly true to Brontë’s voice, Boylan delivers a brilliant tale about a mysterious young girl, Matilda, who is delivered to a girls’ school in provincial England. When everything about the girl’s wealthy background turns out to be a fiction, it falls to a local gentleman, Mr. Ellin, and a childless widow, Isabel Chalfont, to begin a quest for her past and her identity that takes them from the drawing rooms of country society to London’s seamiest alleys. With all the intelligence and pathos of the novel’s originator, Boylan develops Brontë’s sketch of a girl without a past into a stunning portrait of Victorian society with a shameful secret at its heart.
The Bands of Mourning was my least favorite installment of The Mistborn series, and by that I am deeply saddened, but mostly just disappointed.
If you haven't read previous Mitsborn books (especially the second era ones) this review will probably not make any sense for you, as I will be talking about specifics.
“I’m wondering if every person I pass has similar depths, and if there’s any way to avoid the mistake of judging them so shallowly that I’m rocked when they show their true complexity.”
I can sum up my disappointment in this book with a list (that's Steris in me):
- Wayne completely degrading as a character
- Steris - is a wasted potential
- Not enough plot progression
- Too many unanswered questions
- Quite boring at times
- Where the hell was TenSoon??
I will start with Wayne. When I started The Alloy of Law, which is the first book in Mistborn era 2, I adored Wayne and Wax's dynamic. They were clever, funny and ridiculous in the best of ways. In The Shadows os Self Wayne took a back seat for a while and just wasn't as good, but in Bands of Mourning I'm pretty sure he just lost all of his bonkers. His POV felt like one of a drunk, incoherent blubbering child that had no purpose. It was quite pitiful. He did have some good lines here and there, but for the most part his character was ruined for me.
I was hoping that this book would bring out Steris' character to light, as Sanderson does in many of his books (taking a secondary character and giving them the page time they deserve in the next book). No such luck here. Steris was the biggest waste of potential I've ever seen in character development. "Steris go stay with the horses", "Steris wait here with out things", "Steris go stand over there"...
Sure, she herself thought herself almost completely useless to their party as well, but that doesn't make it okay.
in the end she needed making some important trading choices for them ,but it wasn't nearly enough to redeem the treatment her character got through the whole of the series. Despite all of that - she was still my favorite.
The Bands of Mourning felt a lot like a filler book. Things were happening but they weren't going anywhere, plot wise. To be specific, I think that the three books altogether were very disconnected in the first place. The Alloy of Law was about Miles Hundredlives, mostly. The Shadows of Self was about Paalm and who she really was and now The Bands of Mourning was supposedly about the Set, even though we learned almost nothing about them when the book was over.
I know there's supposed to be one more book and maybe that will tie things up and explain some plot holes, but it seems silly to me to make this a four book series, while the first one was nicely wrapped up and done in just three (much larger three, but still).
The Shadows of Self mentioned Trell, but by the end of the Bands of Mourning we didn't know anymore of him than we already did. Same with the Set. And where was TenSoon in all of this? Sitting in a cave? Brooding over everything he's done to Wax, I mean sure, but you know how useful he could have been in this book? And don't get me started with that ending. One sentence!! That's all we got about you know who, and you know what that just made me mad.
I will still read the next one, whenever the comes out, and I also think that I should read The Secret History, maybe some of my questions will be answered there. But for now, I'm just disappointed and I didn't think I could ever be, in Sanderson.
I've said it before, but I am on the quest to read all of Amy Harmon's books, and today a new one by her came out! The Smallest Part follows Noah, who we met twice already - first in The Law of Moses and then in The Song of David. The Smallest Part sounds like it will break my heart, and I'm ready for it.
Publication date: February 13, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Inspirational
Recommended for ages: +16
“In the end, only three things matter. How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” - Unknown
It was a big lie. The biggest lie she’d ever told. It reverberated through her head as she said it, ringing eerily, and the girl behind her eyes—the girl who knew the truth—screamed, and her scream echoed along with the lie.
“Are you in love with Noah, Mercedes?” Cora asked. “I mean . . . I know you love him. You’ve been friends forever. We all have. But are you in love with him?”
If it had been anyone else—anyone—Mercedes would have stuck out her chest, folded her skinny arms, and let her feelings be known. She would have claimed him. But it was Cora. Brave, beautiful, broken Cora, and Cora loved Noah too.
So Mercedes lied.
And with that lie, she lost him. With that lie, she sealed her fate.
She was the best friend, the bridesmaid, the godmother, the glue. She was there for the good times and the bad, the ups and downs, the biggest moments and the smallest parts. And she was there when it all came crashing down.
This is the tale of the girl who didn’t get the guy.
There is hope for YA dystopian books! And that hope is Scythe.
Never have I read 400+ pages book so fast. I just couldn't stop - it was readable, entertaining, unpredictable and just plain awesome.
“Everyone is guilty of something, and everyone still harbors a memory of childhood innocence, no matter how many layers of life wrap around it. Humanity is innocent; humanity is guilty, and both states are undeniably true.”
Scythe was one of the very few YA books that made the cut to be read in 2018 by me. Since I am trying to bring down my YA books to a bare minimum this year, because they don't do much for me anymore. Happy to say that Scythe not only didn't disappoint me, but it also exceeded my expectations.
Now Thunderhead (Scythe 2) is added to the list because you bet I already ordered it for myself.
“Death makes the whole world kin. Rowan wondered if a world without death would then make everyone stranger.”
Sure, it's meant for younger audience, sure it was slowish at times and sure some things weren't original at all. But despite all of that - it was very enjoyable. Especially because the topics it explored were very serious, and musings it provided were very deep and true.
I especially liked the author's views on government, corruption and school system. If kids aren't being taught anything knew and everything is redundant and repetitive then aren't they just go to school to stay out of adult's way? School has become a great means of wasting time.
Who would you become in the age where death doesn't exist? Would you become sedentary or would you keep moving? Would you still have dreams after everything has been learned and accomplished? Would you treat every day as a gift or would you take them all for granted because your days weren't numbered anymore? Would suicide become a fool's play to you, just means of adrenaline kick? Would you use your eternity to perfect yourself or would you rot away, drowning in your eternal bad choices?
“I wonder what life will be like a millennium from now, when the average age will be nearer to one thousand. Will we all be renaissance children, skilled at every art and science, because we’ve had time to master them? Or will boredom and slavish routine plague us even more than it does today, giving us less of a reason to live limitless lives? I dream of the former, but I suspect the latter.”
At first I felt a bit prejudice towards Citra, one of the main characters, as she seemed to be this cliche "bad temper for no reason teenage girl". I am so happy to say that as the book progressed Citra not only proved herself, but actually risen to be my favorite. She grew on me, with every choice she made, and that was a great character development.
Rowan was my favorite to begin with, but as time progressed and he made his choices I wavered in him and didn't know where his path would take him. In the end, Rowan didn't disappoint.
I was so scared that this book will contain star crossed lovers trope, complete with passionate kisses at the most unfortunate time, passionate but awkward half-sex scenes and all other crap that ya dystopian books seem to be full of. But boy was I pleasantry surprised when none of that was present! It literally gives me hope, hope that good books are still being written.
Although I suspect there will be some romance in the second book, but I will just have to wait and see.
Also, let it be know that Neal Shusterman can write a plot twist! Not just one, but five at least! And all of them except one took me by a huge surprise, and it was totally amazing!
“Without the threat of suffering, we can’t experience true joy. The best we get is pleasantness”
No rating (dnf)
“Sometimes there are no words that fit into the space provided.”
I have started reading this book in August and it's February now, so I think it's way past time for me to go ahead and shelve it as DNF. I loved the premise and I adored the format and I enjoyed the writing, I just couldn't get into the plot - and it's nobody's fault.
I promised myself that I will be more picky and fierce with my reads this year (and by fierce I mean dnf-ing books when I'm not into them without feeling guilty, which I still do).
I read about 134 pages, so I had a pretty good idea where the book was going and what it was doing, but alas it just wasn't holding my attention. I kept going back to it because I loved the way it was written and I also loved the silky smooth pages and the design that ran through the whole book. But I can't read the book based on it's external beauty, can I?
“Some people are so blinded by what’s real that they’re not ready for what’s true.”
Not many things happened in those 134 pages and the plot seemed redundant, with things being repeated over and over again. I also thought that this book had potential to be very sad and heartbreaking, if only it wasn't being told in the past tense.
Telling the story from past tense point of view dulls the pain and the emotions that otherwise would have been flowing, and lately I've been looking for books that can make me feel something. A whole lot of something! And The days the angels fell wasn't making me feel anything.
I did enjoy many musing and truths that book was providing about death, life and everything in between - they were profound and very true.
This book was provided by publisher through LibraryThing for an honest review. Thank you.
“Human beings are not designed to be alone. Our creator gave us smooth, sensitive skin that craves the warmth of other skin. Our arms seek to hold. Our hands yearn to touch. We are drawn to companionship and affection out of an innate need.”
I'm on a quest to read all of Amy Harmon books and I only have like 4 books to go. Which makes me both really proud of myself and really sad - because that means from now on I will have to wait for new books to be released.
I just can't seem to get enough of Amy's writing, of her characters and of the emotions that flow through each and every one of her books.
Speaking of amazing characters - I related to Josie on such a deep level that she immediately shot up to number 2 of my "all time favorite female characters list" - number one still being taken by Lark from The Bird and the Sword, yes also by Amy Harmon.
Josie is a book worm, and not just because she says so (which I find to be the problem with many books that try to portray their characters as bookish, but fail) but because she is truly one. Josie began reading to escape her reality, and she never stopped because books became such a big part of who she was. She didn't just read for pleasure - she read to learn, to discuss, to speculate and to broaden her horizons. I admired that about her the most, as that reminded me once again to read quality books because everything I put into myself reflects on who I am.
But I got off track with my bookish views. Josie loves to garden - she loves to feel the soil below her toes and she loves too cook with all of her fresh vegetables - if that's not an image of me, I don't know what is. If Josie Jo was a real person she would have been my best friend.
“I hated making small talk and avoided people in the grocery store and other places just so that i wouldn't have to think of things to say. I liked people, i cared about them, and i wanted to be a good person, but don't make me chat idly on the telephone or make pleasant conversation just for the sake of being polite." -I've never related more!
Running Barefoot is a story about young love, but it's also a story of restraint and waiting. Waiting till the time is right, waiting and believing that the person who was meant for you will in the end be indeed yours.
The novel starts when Josie is 13 and Samuel is 18 and I absolutely adored the way it was handled. Under the circumstances that could have been the worst, their friendship and love remained the purest.
Now, sure Samuel is literally an 18 year boy out of the dreamland - besides being a very angry, lost and closed-up teenager, he turned out to be the utmost gentleman. I loved Samuel's heritage story and how he struggled to fit in, being half Native American and half white. His tribe didn't think him native enough, and his white peers didn't consider him white enough. Samuel was stuck in a limbo of anger and resentment and the way he found his place in the world was truly beautiful.
And just because I have't met anybody like Samuel in real life, does't mean that boys like him do not exists. For the sake of all the young girls in the world, I hope they do. And I also hope that more girls read this book and realize what they truly deserve and what true love could really be if they are only patient enough.
“Like a shoe that has lost its mate is never worn again, I had lost my matching part and didn't know how to run barefoot.”
I inhaled this story and I am sure that this is a novel that I will re-read many times in the future. Only thing was that I expected this book to be more emotional to me than it was. Sure I teared up a few times, but having read Amy's other books, I was excepting a full out cry fest. The event that was supposed to leave me in tears didn't because for me there wasn't enough momentum leading up to it.
But there were many other precious moments, and amazing life lessons that I will cherish forever.
“You see beauty in things other people just take for granted. You need understanding, and, and…deep conversation, and someone who can keep up with that mind of yours!”
“Cleaning the wound is often more painful than the cut itself.”
I have the hardest time rating this book. It's either 3.75 or 4 out of 5 starts for me. Or somewhere in between that.
It has come as a great shock to me, as this is the first Brandon Sanderson book that I have rated lower than 4.5 stars. For starters, it wasn't nearly as good as Alloy of Law was. Both character and plot wise.
But my rating is lower mostly because I found some theology and musings that rubbed me the wrong way in this book - I just wasn't a fan.
While In Alloy of Law Wax and Wayne were the ultimate dream duo - here they barely did anything together and thus I really missed their banter (thankfully there was some other banter going around but still). Wax turned from a funny badass allomancer to this removed, high brow and even a bit boring lawman.
Except of course I felt for Wax in the end. Because that ending just came like an avalanche over me and plastered me to the ground with feelings.
“You had to adapt. Move. Change. That was good, but it could also threaten identity, connection, and sense of purpose.”
I also have lost all of the interest in Marasi with this book. She showed so much promise in the first book, but here she became the biggest bore of them all, with all of her proper law works, constable politics and just blah-blah-blah. Sure she's smart, and capable and resourceful , but she's just not engaging anymore. Not even a bit.
And in the end when all Marasi cared about was a metal spike while Wax's world was crashing down, I literally lost all of my respect for her.
And gained a whole more respect for Steris. I liked Steris a lot in the end of Alloy of Law, and I wish she had more page time in Shadows of Self. She didn't, but the time she had - she used so well. I am hoping beyond hope that I will see more Steris in the next book, because I need it!
“The immortal demigod took a throaty slurp of her beer, then slammed the mug down onto the table, grinning like a four-year-old who had been paid in cookies to rat out her sister.”
With all of that said Wayne was driving the show in this book. Well him, and MeeLan and TenSoon (which I promise I almost cried when I saw his name pop-up in the book). Wayne and Meelan delivered all the banter I was looking for in this book, and TenSoon, let's just say that him being there was enough.
“She had a way of pouring everything of herself into what she did. When she fought, she was the blade. When she loved, she was the kiss. In that regard, she was far more … human than any I have known.”
The plot was good, but it spent way too much time on Marasi and her countable career, which as I said I didn't care one bit about. And then the ending came and the most brutal truth in the whole history of Mistborn came out and I was just shocked to my very core, and I still hasn't recovered. And neither did Wax. And I have no idea what he is going to do in the next book, and honestly, I'm scared.
“I often wonder why the whole world is so prone to generalise. Generalisations are seldom if ever true and are usually utterly inaccurate.”
Turned out that this was a re-read for me. Like with many of Agatha's books, as I read tons of them a few years back and can't remember which ones I did read.
For such a short book it took me ages to read it. Mostly, because I was very busy.
But also because I was very bored.
“There is no detective in England equal to a spinster lady of uncertain age with plenty of time on her hands.”
Miss Marple is portrayed as an old crazy lady that just happened to live next to the place where murder has taken place and she in the end is the one who solves the whole thing. While I don't mind her taking a back seat and letting the other characters run the show - it just didn't work out well for this story. Same tactic was used in The Moving Finger, but I adored that story.
It seems that last time I read it, I've enjoyed it more. But this time around there was just too much "going around the bush" and "useless plot twists" for my liking. The novel was only about 290 pages, but I honestly think that it could have been 200 and would still have accomplished the same thing. Dialog was repetitive at certain points and some characters were introduced that didn't add anything to the story at all (specifically Mary and Marple's nephew - useless waste of pages).
I still enjoyed it, but not as much as I enjoy some of her other works.
“Nothing, I believe, is so full of life under the microscope as a drop of water from a stagnant pool.”
I don't know about you, but I love, love shopping at used bookstores, and regular thrift stores for books. Why?
1. I can find brand new books there for 50c-3$.
2. I can also find the some antique looking books and that's just amazing for any collector of books.
I recently went to Goodwill and found these four books - all in great conditions (one of them I actually wanted to buy few days ago full price, so when I found it at thrift store I just had to laugh at such great timing). Now, everybody's thrift store is different - some have tons some don't, but don't despair and keep checking in regularly.
1. Rooms by Lauren Oliver
I know nothing of this book, but the cover and the blurb caught my attention.
A tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways
Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.
2. The monogram murders by Sophie Hannah
Yes, I am aware that this isn't Agatha Christie's book. But I am very curious to see how she handles mysteries in Christie's fashion. My mom said she enjoyed it a lot. This is the book I was going to buy full price.
‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’
Hercule Poirot's quiet supper in a London coffeehouse is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified – but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done.
Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London Hotel have been murdered, and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim...
3. Autobiography by Agatha Christie
Two Christie books in one trip?? That literally never happens. This lady is a mastermind of mystery genre and I definitely want to get to know her life better.
Supposedly it's very funny and charming, just like a lot of her books are. Sadly I couldn't find a description for this book on Goodreads in English (which is so odd) but oh well.
4. Faithful place by Tana French (#3)
I know nothing of this book, except that it sounds intriguing. I will need to read the first 2 book first though.
That which was buried is brought to light and wreaks hell -- on no one moreso than Frank Mackey, beloved undercover guru and burly hero first mentioned in French's second book about the Undercover Squad, The Likeness.
Faithful Place is Frank's old neighborhood, the town he fled twenty-two years ago, abandoning an abusive alcoholic father, harpy mother, and two brothers and sisters who never made it out. They say going home is never easy, but for Frank, investigating the cold case of the just-discovered body of his teenage girlfriend, it is a tangled, dangerous journey, fraught with mean motivations, black secrets, and tenuous alliances. Because he is too close to the case, and because the Place (including his family) harbors a deep-rooted distrust of cops, Frank must undergo his investigation furtively, using all the skills picked up from years of undercover work to trace the killer and the events of the night that changed his life.
I have decided at the beginning of 2018 that I will start reading better books (and so far I think I really have). But I wanted to take the topic further and discuss what books I won't be reading and what books and genres I will be striving to read more.
In 2017 about 90% of the books I've read were of YA genre (mostly YA fantasy and YA contemporary). This year I'm planning to bring down my YA books to 10% (and only because I have few that I would really like to give a chance to). I will not be counting my favorite YA re-reads into the percentage, as those are books that I already experienced and loved.
Reason? YA genre doesn't fulfill me anymore. It doesn't provide me anything new to learn either. And the lessons it teaches are repeated consistently throughout every other book. So I got tired of reading "same but slightly different book" every time I pick up YA author. Of course, as in everything, there are some great exceptions. I just have to be more picky.
Here are some genres that I will be striving to read more:
- Women fiction (authors such as Liane Moriarty and Gale Honeyman)
- Historical fiction (and not just WWII anymore)
- Books by foreign authors (meaning not from United States)
- Specifically books by asian authors about asian culture
- Asian culture in general (I feel like there's so much to learn about asian culture)
- Books about life in countries such as Iceland, Mongolia, India, Nepal and more
Here are some specific books that I'm very excited for:
1. The Good Earth (House of Earth #1)by Pearl S. Buck
Wang Lung, rising from humble Chinese farmer to wealthy landowner, gloried in the soil he worked. He held it above his family, even above his gods. But soon, between Wang Lung and the kindly soil that sustained him, came flood and drought, pestilence and revolution....
2. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.
3. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
San Piedro Island, north of Puget Sound, is a place so isolated that no one who lives there can afford to make enemies. But in 1954 a local fisherman is found suspiciously drowned, and a Japanese American named Kabuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. In the course of the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that what is at stake is more than a man's guilt.
4. It's Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice
In 2008, Simon Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (mnd). He was given four years to live.
In 2010, in a state of lung-function collapse, Simon knew with crystal clarity that now was not his time to die. Against all prevailing medical opinion, he chose to ventilate in order to stay alive.
5. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
A love story across the ages - and for the ages - about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live. How to Stop Time is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.
6. The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.
Thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tomás’s quest.
Are any of these books out of my reading comfort zone?
Absolutely. But I've decided that sitting in my happy "fantasy, mystery genre" comfort zone is boring (this excludes Brandon Sanderson because, you know, the man is brilliant).
I urge you to evaluate your reading habits and see if you are sitting in stagnant waters of "mass produced books" or if you are swimming in fresh streams of barely touched subjects and books that are just waiting to be read by you.
“It sometimes seemed so peculiar and wrong to her that you could be that intimate with someone, to go to sleep with him and wake up with him, to do really quite extraordinarily personal things together on a regular basis, and then, suddenly, you don’t even know his telephone number, or where he’s living or working, or what he did today or last week or last year."
I picked this book up at a thrift store (in mint condition might I add) and I didn't expect to like it nearly as much as I did. I literally had no expectations for this book at all as I knew nothing about it. The Hypnotist's Love Story is my third book by Moriarty, as I've already read What Alice Forgot and The Husband's Secret, and I do enjoy Moriarty's writing style a whole lot.
But this novel was more than just great writing - it was very entertaining, it was relatable and it was impossible to put down (but then again, previous 2 book of Moriarty I've read were as well).
“He was a selfish, pompous, egocentric, nasty man. She did not want to be married to him, but she did not want him to marry someone else. She did not want him, but she wanted him to want her.”
Moriarty knows and writes women like nobody else. I think that is the biggest reason why I am so drawn to her books - I am able to identify with her characters (some more some less, but still each and every one of them). Her characters think exact thoughts that fly through my head, they do things that I've done or at least thought of doing - sometimes I have to stop and think " hey, is this character - me?".
Maybe it's the age thing, maybe since I'm getting older I like to read about women who are older and to see how they navigate their life.
“Breathe in. She didn’t give a fig what other people thought! Breathe out. Rubbish. She gave a whole fig tree.”
I was able to identify with Ellen on a whole other level, as she seems to have many traits that I have as well. And when Patrick drove her crazy with his boxes of rubbish and stuff just laying around in her clean hallway - I honestly felt twitchy as if I had boxes in my hallway. Ohhh, to be OCD and have a book understand you - there's no better feeling.
“Ellen had always assumed she would marry young and have a relationship like theirs. She thought she was that sort of person. Traditional. Nice. As if nice girls always found nice boys. As if “niceness” was all that was necessary to maintain a relationship.”
The plot itself was very bizarre and "out-of-the-movie-screen" at times, but I just couldn't stop reading. I needed to know what will happen next. I just needed to be in the lives of those women. Man, now I sound like another character from this book - see, relatable!
I know this book is not nearly as popular as Moriarty's other books, but I really enjoyed it and I would really recommend it to fans of women fiction such as What Alice Forgot by Moriarty or Eleanor Oliphant is completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.
“It's amazing how friends can slip through your fingers, how your social network can vanish like it never existed.”
I've read Hunger Games for the first time about at least 5 years ago. I remember loving it back then - as Hunger Games were the very first ya dystopian book I've ever read. It was the first ya book I've ever read if I'm honest. So needless to say that Hunger Games is a bit part of my reading journey.
I'm always scared of re-reading books, because there's a slight chance that I won't like them as much second time around. But I'm very grateful to find out that I'm enjoying The Hunger Games.
“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
If this is your 1st time reading this series, here are few things that you need to know:
1. This was written and published in 2008. A decade ago.
2. This has basically started the "ya-dystopian-genre" craze! For YA literature at least. Adult genre authors have been writing about things like this for years: Stephen King, William Goulding and George Orwell to name a few.
3. If you are reading a newish dystopian book and you think that Hunger Games took ideas from it - it's probably the other way around (see #1) as after this have been published many authors jumped on the band-wagon of quickly expanding dystopian craze *cough cough* Divergent! *cough*
“I am not pretty. I am not beautiful. I am as radiant as the sun.”
Despite few minor inconsistencies, grammar typos and a very, very annoying first person narration - The Hunger Games (4.25/5 stars) is a very solid read.
Catching Fire (5/5stars) on the other hand is amazing - it's my absolute favorite of the three.
“The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the mockingjay. The one that survived despite the Capitol's plans. The symbol of the rebellion.”
For many people Catching Fire will seem like it has a "second book syndrome", and I can totally see that. The first half of the book is very, very slow (they don't even enter the arena till about 80% in). But to me all of those little things that happened in the first half of the book represent so much.
Every little rebellious act, every thought in the right direction, every sacrifice and injustice - all of that led to a very powerful culmination.
The first person narration is still a bit annoying, but not nearly as much as in the first book.
Is Katniss Everdeen a strong and perfect female character? She's definitely not perfect. She has flaws, she's emotional and very indecisive. But she's also determined, honest and resourceful.
When I read this for first time about 5 years ago I focused more on romance and found myself being annoyed at Katniss for not being more into the "whole romance thing". But now I applaud her for that. Because to be honest, hers is the most logical reaction of all.
She thinks she can die at any point, she worries her family might be tortured or killed at any point, she constantly sees people being beheaded, mutilated, poisoned etc.
Who in their right mind could focus on romance?? Well, I guess Peeta could. But Peeta is a lover, and Katniss is a fighter.
And even though this was my 2nd time reading, I still teared up a good amount of times.
“At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead.The hard thing is finding the courage to do it.”
As I've said the first time I read Mockingjay (4/5 stars) was at least 5 years ago, and therefore I was a bit hazy as to what happened in it(maybe because it was too painful and my mind tuned it out).
What puts Hunger Games above all other dystopian ya books for me is that Hunger Games are so much more than just an entertaining, bloody and action packed dystopian. It's about friendship, family, love, loss, betrayal, mental health, coping, depression and so much more.
“I clench his hands to the point of pain. "Stay with me."
His pupils contract to pinpoints, dialate again rapidly, and then return to something resembling normalcy. "Always," he murmurs.”
I really loved how with each book the romance have been taking the back seat, and in the 3rd book it was almost completely destroyed. I think that the problem with other dystopian ya books - they are mostly romance sprinkled with action and set in dystopian setting, but Hunger Games is a true, thought provoking dystopian with some romance woven into it.
“But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We're fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.”
Mockingjay was very hard to read at times, mostly because of Katniss. But reading this second time around I came to appreciate just how strong of a character she was. She was used and abused, she was sent to die numerous times, people used her image for their own gains, and she was drugged too many times in this book I can count.
So reading how she tried to put herself back together after everything was over was more rewarding than any other "happy ending" could have ever been. It was slow and painful, and not in the least romantic or "happy", but it was the best she could do. After all, who could expect more after what had happened?
Finnick Odair will always be one of the best secondary characters ever. I only wish he had even more page time here - his struggles were so painful, but his joys were so happy - and I definitely wanted more of that.
Also, team Peeta all the way .
“Real or not real?”
“It's all right Wayne," Waxillium said softly. "I've made a promise. I told Lord Harms I'd return Steris to him. And I will. That is that."
"Then I will remain and help," Marasi said. "That is that."
"And I could really use some food," Wayne added. "Fat is fat.”
This quote right here is the most accurate description of the 3 main characters in The Alloy of Law.
Also, this book right here is the prime example of how to write a second generation series that doesn't suck, but quite the opposite - shines almost as bright as the original. Did I miss the original cast: Elend, Vin, Breeze and the rest of them? Of course I did! I love them all to pieces. Did I wish for them to be in this book instead of the new characters? Heck NO! I loved the new ones right off the bat, and now I have more characters to add to my ever-growing bucket of ...well favorites.
“I need something, Wax. A place to look. You always did the thinking.”
“Yes, having a brain helps with that, surprisingly.”
The Alloy of Law is much shorter, and thus is not nearly as developed or interwoven as the first three books are - but that is the point. The next three books are meant to take the reader back to the same era (hundreds of years later) but they also meant to make the reader laugh. And boy, they do! I don't remember a book that had me laughing so hard and so often, and what's funny you will ask?
“It’s what happens when you shoot someone,” Wayne pointed out. “At least, usually someone has the good sense to get dead when you go to all the trouble to shoot them.”
The banter between Wax and Wayne is priceless. Priceless!! If you enjoyed the conversations between Breeze and Ham in the first trilogy, but wished for more, well - your wishes have been granted! Wax and Wayne are here to satisfy your thirst for witty banter. And they do so in tenfolds.
I also enjoyed Maresi a lot and can't wait to see what direction her character development takes. Also, Steris? How can she be so dull, but hilariously entertaining at the same time?? Loved it!
The Alloy of Law is short and to the point, but even if it looks like the plot has wrapped itself up - certain little things will ensure that the reader comes back for more.
Like, what was up with that ending??
“Once one becomes a man, he can and must make his own decisions. But I do offer warning. Even a good thing can become destructive if taken to excess.”
“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.”
I went back and forth on how to rate this book. While I was reading it - it felt like a solid 4 star read. After I finished it - I was ready to give it 5 stars. But as the hours passed by I decided to drop it down to 3.5 because I didn't like how some of the things were handled. But in the end I did settled down on 4 stars.
Although if I am being completely honest with myself I think if I haven't watched the movie first (a few years back, and loved it so much) I wouldn't have been so into the book itself, as this is one of the very few cases where I think the movie was better than the book.
“Time is what keeps things from happening all at once.”
Inexplicable! I know, but the movie really was good - it made me cry rivers. There were also many things that were being better handled in the movie.The most prominent one being Lena's storyline. The movie made it believable, while in the book it literally was the instal-love of all Insta-loves. They had no proper contact before, they barely knew each other and somehow - bam, she loves him so much.
Zero development - which irked me a lot, because Lena was my favorite character.
“Lena was an introvert. She knew she had trouble connecting with people. She always felt like her looks were fake bait, seeming to offer a bridge to people, which she couldn't easily cross.”
I related to Lena a 100%. Super introverted - preferring solitude over pretty much anything, choosing paths that didn't have people walking on them, overthinking everything she wanted to say, mentally nudging herself to do things and get out of her comfort zone. But in the end always being there for her friends.
“So far, she’d been her usual lame self: solitary and routine-loving, carefully avoiding any path that might lead to spontaneous human interaction."
I enjoyed other storylines very much as well. They were all so different, but together they represented life in all of its forms. Carmen with family troubles, Libby - coming face to face with loss, and Bridget - who lost so much, but was readily giving more. I loved them all.
But once again I did like the movie's way of handling Carmen's storyline a bit better - I just liked that all of the girls were there, with her, as opposing the book having her to fly solo for an important part of her development.
On the contrary, Bridget's character was much better in the book - in the movie I didn't understand her motives and why she was the way she was. But the book cracked her insides very open and I loved that.
I know that it might be very silly to compare a book to its movie so much, but in my defense I've never read a book that had a movie almost identical to each other. Usually movies make a lot of changes, and most of the time they are for worse, and not for the better - but in this case it was totally the opposite.
All in all I'd definitely recommend this book, as it's one of the best "coming of age stories" out there, in my opinion. The book is also filled with very memorable quotes and thoughts - and I really enjoyed that. Will definitely read the next one.
“It was funny to hear her voice aloud. Her thoughts and perceptions usually existed so deep inside her, they rarely made it to the surface without a deliberate effort.”
“The most intimate thing we can do is to allow the people we love most to see us at our worst. At our lowest. At our weakest. True intimacy happens when nothing is perfect.”
If you scroll really, really far down on my blog - to the very 1st post actually, you will see that it was The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon. Which is a "prequel" to The Song of David. I say "prequel" because it's more of a spin off than a prequel to be precise.
So I think it's beyond cool that my 1st and last reviews of 2017 were of Amy Harmon's books.
Both of these books left a tremendous impact on me, heck, it's a year later and I still think about The Law of Moses.
“That was your second chance, and you repeated all your mistakes. You’ve shown your colors, and I don’t like the way you look in them. I don’t want you around.”
While it did take me some tie to get into The Law of Moses, as I am not big on romance or contemporaries, I loved The Song of David from the first pages.
Amy Harmon is a queen of diverse characters. While majority of writers mainly focuses on skin color or sexual orientation as a form of diversity (not all, obviously, but majority of what I read this year), but in Harmon's books you will find much more diverse characters. Which is a big reason whey her books speak so loudly to me.
Mute Lark, amputee Angelo, wheelchair-ridden Bailey, suicidal Tag, war-scarred Brosey, autistic Henry, blind Millie, and Moses, who had too many issues to count. And with each book I add another one to my favorites. Those characters don't only represent diversity - they ARE diversity, they are LIFE. They are phenomenal, they are all warriors and they all are pretty badass!
“We can’t escape ourselves, Tag. Here, there, half-way across the world, or in a psych ward in Salt Lake City. I’m Moses and you’re Tag. And that part never changes. So either we figure it out here, or we figure it out there. But we still gotta deal. And death won’t change that.”
I can't think of any other author who could make me care about a pole stripper and a ring fighter, and this book did just that.
Also because it's tied up with characters from The Law of Moses I was ready to cry from the very first pages - nostalgia hit me so hard.
I absolutely recommend this book, but I also recommend reading The Law of Moses first. These are the books with characters that will steal your heart, and life situations so incredible, but also so real and raw at the same time, that you might have hard time catching your breath.
Amy Harmon knows romance like no other.
And I don't even like romance books.
Freelance BETA reader.