Not If I See You First — Eric Lindstrom

Hello there,

Firstly, I would like to confess that I do judge books by their covers. (Don’t kill me) This one certainly caught my attention. The picture I’ve inserted here doesn’t do it any justice. The edition I have is bright yellow and the braille (the black dots you see in the picture above) on my copy are tiny raised silver dots instead. I love running my fingers across the bumps, and they do spell something which is great fun to decipher. 🙂

Now, on to the book. Following my streak I started with The Serpent King, this story doesn’t really have a plot. The main characters are younger at about 15 years old. It follows Parker Grant, a blind girl who is navigating high school. If you’re looking for a book where the main topic is about being blind, you might want to look elsewhere as this book largely treats Parker like a normal person with normal problems.

A good summary of the book might be that it is about love, in all its different forms. The most prominent one is the love between friends, which was something about the book that I thoroughly enjoyed. There were also many quiet moments that just made me smile with their sincerity and downright cute-ness.

As I finished it in less than 2 days, I would recommend this book if you are up for a light-hearted read, or if you are curious about the daily life of someone who is blind. Though her blindness was not a talking point of the story, I definitely gained some insight on what it is like being blind.

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MWAHAHA now it is on to the spoiler-filled section which I hope will entertain you. If you have read the book or don’t plan on reading it, feel free to scroll forward. If you plan on reading the book, Shoo!

Happy reading


SPOILER DISCUSSION ALERT – PROCEED WITH CAUTION

srnzgg3

Me trying to defend a book I like

As I have mentioned in my previous post, I love reading negative-ish reviews…

…Okay! Briefing’s over, let’s get on with it.

  1. Being blind is not a central theme — I understand that going into a book like this, we expect the story to be centered around her blindness. However I don’t think we should write off a book like this just because the struggles of being blind aren’t central to the story. There are plenty of moments throughout the book that address her blindness. The book is told in the first person perspective so we do get to see how she goes about her daily life. For example, it was fascinating to read about how she manages to run all by herself every morning, or visit the mall to buy shoes on her own. Sure, I would love to read a book where we get to see the main character come to terms with his/her disability, but it doesn’t make this story less worthy of being read. If you would like to read more books with blind characters, here’s a list from Goodreads. I don’t think that all the books mentioned have a blind main character, but it should be a good place to start. Knock yourself out 😀 (If you have read any books which involve blind characters that you would like to recommend, let me know!)
  2. Jason disappears without another peep near the middle of the book after the BIG REVEAL — I will admit that I only noticed this disappearance briefly near the 3/4 mark of the book. But by that time I couldn’t really care less about him. OHOHO. However, I do find it very strange that his storyline wasn’t really tied up neatly. We never see him beyond the part when Parker decides she wants back with Scott. Also, at the beginning he was very charming. But near the middle he started getting a little strange…? I can’t explain it. He sorta felt like a different character to me. Arguably though, this does reflect real life. A first encounter helps you form a certain impression of a person. But, subsequent interactions start to shape and mould this initial impression to a more accurate one. I am also very curious… How does he know how to talk to blind people?!?!?!?! Even Parker wants to know. He does a lot of things when they first meet that make it seem like he has a relative who is also blind. This would’ve made for a pretty cool side story but alas, it was never addressed.
  3. Swearing — Ok, I don’t think the f-bombs were all that necessary but they weren’t used excessively so I shall live with it.
  4. Parker’s slight immaturity and overreaction — Wasn’t this addressed in the book? That she was only 13 and didn’t understand the situation fully. The misunderstanding was what led her to shut Scott out. But I sympathise. Wouldn’t you feel ashamed? Something so private is being made fun of. Maybe this is just my opinion but where I come from, people don’t usually make out in public. So the fact that 7 people were watching frightens the living daylights outta me.
  5. Parker was whiny/full of herself/unlikable — Really? I didn’t notice.
  6. Romance with Jason was weird — On hindsight, agreed.
  7. Other senses were ignored — I didn’t think about this but yeah there were fewer descriptions about smell, taste and touch. It was mostly dialogue throughout the book. This would have been a nice added layer but its absence didn’t destroy the book for me.
  8. The font was strange — No one has actually complained about this but I do think it took a while for me to get used to the font. But this is just personal preference.
  9. The scarves were a great fashion idea — This isn’t a complaint about the book. I just needed somewhere to lament that living in the tropics means scarves are generally not part of the wardrobe. 😦

Thanks for sticking with me…

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Since I’m currently reading Winnie-the-pooh…

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The Serpent King – Jeff Zentner

Hello there,

Long time no see! Sorry I’ve been away, this might be the first book I’ve read this year that I think warrants a book review and discussion. I’m glad to be back so let’s get started. 🙂

This book follows three characters, Dill, Lydia, and Travis. The story starts with them entering their last year in high school. Over the course of the story, they have to deal with their own problems at home while trying to figure out their own futures. As someone who is also about their age, I can see how the events they are experiencing may seem frightening. The worries and emotions of the characters are accurate reflections of people my age.

As I read the author bio first, I knew that this was his debut novel. As such, I might have been over critical. I thought the writing seemed a bit heavy on the adjectives and descriptions, especially in the beginning. It seemed like an expository composition I might have written when I was younger. But after the first few chapters, I stopped noticing the writing and started focusing on the story. It ended up being an easy read which I blew through in 2 or 3 days.

Though the book doesn’t really have a typical plot where the main characters are out to find something or are on a journey from point A to B, I was still hooked on the story. I admit this might not appeal to those who are hoping for a more structured story. So, this is ultimately a matter of preference. As far as I understand, the people who didn’t like this book were those who thought it was predictable or pointless. Though I think this might be more of a problem with the subject matter. Regardless, this book made me tear up and laugh out loud, so it gets a good rating from me. 🙂 Now, I shall be moving on to a spoiler-filled discussion of the book, so move away now if you would still like to read the book. Shoo! 

Happy reading

 


SPOILER DISCUSSION ALERT – PROCEED WITH CAUTION

 

Confession: I have a terrible habit. Before or after I read a book, I will go onto Goodreads, and seek out the 1 and 2 star reviews. The only exceptions are for books I didn’t like, in which case I search for the opposing view. But glowing reviews aren’t nearly as fun as watching people vent their frustrations. As such, this section will comprise my views on certain problems that people had with the book. Here we go!

  1. Lydia and Dill are too immature to be 17 year olds —  To me, their worries about the future, such as moving away from friends and family were relatable. I will concede that at the very beginning, their constant bickering was annoying and rather childish. However, I thought it was a realistic portrayal of the average 17 year old. Not everyone is of the same level of maturity and people who are mature may sometimes still act otherwise. I also wouldn’t expect them to act like grown-ups and settle arguments without any emotion because they’re aren’t grown ups. Though I admit, my opinion here might only be so, due to where I have grown up. For example, a book reviewer mentions that when she was 17 or 18 years old, she was already moving out of her home. Where I come from, people usually only move out of their parents’ home after they’ve gotten married.
  2. Lydia and Dill “insta-crush” — I’m quite confused by this because several reviewers mention that the crush was only revealed in the 170 + page? But I am sure that at the beginning, there were small tidbits like when Lydia reveals that she thinks Dill looks good when they were at an indie clothing shop. Similarly, Dill also very explicitly revels in Lydia’s scent (mind my phrasing) at the beginning of the book. They have also been friends for a very long time so they do care about each other. From a non-physical perspective, Dill was sad that Lydia would be leaving and this was mentioned very early on. So from my point of view, the crush wasn’t instantaneous and without any build-up.
  3. Predictable — Hmmm… maybe. I can’t really agree/disagree on this one. I sure didn’t expect Travis to die. So I thought the story was pretty decent? Conclusion: Depends on how many books you have read
  4. Travis only existed to die — Hmm… I suppose it could seem that way. But don’t characters all serve a purpose? I thought his character was pretty fleshed out. Perhaps because he was not the main character, he might have seemed more neglected as a result. It is a valid point that I had not previously noticed.
  5. Story had no plotline — Surprisingly, I didn’t notice this but it’s true. Regardless, I was hooked to the story. So this point is a matter of personal preference 😀

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

The collected works of A.J. Fikry — Gabrielle Zevin

Hello there,

This book was all over booktube and has received rave reviews. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype but I’m glad to say that it did not disappoint. I can’t count the number of times I burst into laughter. It was amazing.

It didn’t make me cry like I thought might have been the intention of the end but it was all still so good. For some reason, I really enjoyed how the ending was written. I usually find endings very anti-climatic but Gabrielle Zevin tied it up very very nicely. The only problem was, I didn’t want to leave the world just yet.

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It was a very fast read and a treat for book lovers. Every chapter began with a note about a real-life book. I only read one of the stories mentioned in the book, Lamb of the slaughter. It was fun to hear A.J.’s thoughts on the story. Also, I adore the police officer character Lambiase, he is hilarious!

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Happy reading

The Intern — Gabrielle Tozer

 

Hello there,

Short synopsis: 17 almost 18-year old Josie is smart but socially awkward. She aspires to become a journalist but instead, rather hesitantly, joins an internship programme at the fashion magazine, Sash. Follow her on a journey as she navigates a trying time with family, friends, school and romance.

I wanted to add my own synopsis here because I felt that the blurb on the back of the book misleads readers into thinking the book will be a behind the scenes look at the fashion magazine world.

While this book definitely has some elements of the fashion world in it, it is not central to the story. As Josie is more of a writer, we tend to see more of the editorial side of things. On a whole though, the book is mainly focused on Josie herself. We see her struggle to juggle family, friends, staying on top of school and trying to be an outstanding intern. It does makes the book much more relatable as her struggle is universal, and can resonate with teens especially.

The book is a fast one as I sped through it in a day and a half. It offers a predictable story that is neatly tied at the end which may be a source of joy for some. It’s the kind of light read where you get to escape from your world for a while. You get to root for the underdog and watch her triumph. In the end, you emerge refreshed and ready to take on your own real-life challenges.

This is not to say that that is the book’s only purpose. There are several issues that were brought up in this book that are very real and very important. That said, the book tries to do too many things with itself and spreads itself too thin. I’m afraid I can’t go into detail about what I mean as there are spoilers involved. If you have read the book, or don’t mind spoilers, feel free to check out my thoughts in the discussion below.

With respect to the characters, as I have mentioned before, Josie is the main star of the show. As such, we get to see much more of her character than anyone else. This is great but it is regretful that one character in particular stood out to me as rather flat and too perfect. But this shall be forgiven as most of the other characters are decently fleshed out.

Overall, the story did a good job of entertaining me for the duration of the journey. The only let downs were that the fashion world aspect was not explored more and the important issues could have been included to greater effect.

Happy reading


 

SPOILER DISCUSSION ALERT – PROCEED WITH CAUTION

In my review above, I mentioned “rather flat characters”. It may come as no surprise that that character is Josie’s love interest James. Her cousin’s cute roommate that is incredibly sweet, funny and [creepily] understanding of Josie. This bothers me because their romance follows every single romance trope in the book. Embarrassing first encounter, followed by falling head over heels in love, finding out he has someone else, unable to get him out of her mind, he breaks up with his girlfriend, misunderstandings between the destined lovebirds, they end up together and BAM sparks fly, happily-ever-after. It’s a little sad that the romance wasn’t more developed but again with the book trying to cover so many things, I decided to just let it slide.

Speaking of trying to do too many things, can we please talk about that essay Josie wrote at the end of the book? The one about female body image and eating disorders. I can see how it might have been building up with Ava’s situation and also hinted at when Josie was being a little fashion conscious when she first goes to Sash. However, I don’t think that was really enough to warrant the “YES I am going to write this moving personal essay about body image and eating disorders”. It became even more ridiculous when the essay went National and other characters said it was so deeply personal and moving.

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?WAAaaAAaAT?

I had no idea where it came from so it was a little anti-climatic when it happened. I felt that Josie was pretty grounded in herself. She knew she was smart, and she didn’t seem all that bothered by her self-image. Thinking back, I guess the comments peppered throughout the book, such as the line “thin models nibbling on carrots”, were not just passing remarks. Had her struggle been more personal and central to the story, the essay she goes on to write would have had so much more meaning. It was a great idea but a flawed execution.

It would have been nice as well if the author included some websites or books relating to eating disorders after the story ends. I’m surprised she did not as it would have made the book more complete and maybe help spread an important message. I suppose as the body image issue wasn’t really central to the story, the extra information was then not necessary. But if that is the case then it really shouldn’t have been included as a plot point in the first place. Okay, I’ve ranted enough. Feel free to share your thoughts, agree or disagree in the comments below!

Something different: Books I didn’t finish

 

Hello there,

This post is a little different, I’ll still be talking about this book and why I didn’t finish it but I’ll also touch on what I feel about the general idea of not finishing books.

 

BOOK REVIEW


Why did I stop reading this book? The simple answer is that I just wasn’t interested.

It wasn’t a bad book and the characters were likable. I also quite enjoyed delving into the mind of a celebrity and exploring his view on fame. It was interesting to be in his shoes, to experience being recognized and hounded by the paparazzi when all you wanted was an ice-cream cone. Unfortunately, despite all that, the story just didn’t have that *oomph* that I was looking for.

From the inside flap, it’s obvious that the book contains generous servings of cheesy and awkward romance. At the time, I had just finished binge-watching a Taiwanese 偶像剧 (idol drama) which was probably the limit of my cheesiness tolerance. So that’s one reason why I didn’t feel like pulling through till the end. Also,

*MIGHT BE A SPOILER*

call me crazy but a huge part of the romance genre that I enjoy is the thrill of the chase. In this story, there wasn’t really a chase to begin with, but rather an obstacle in their relationship. I can’t be too sure, but about mid-way through the book, it seemed like that road-block had been removed. What remained of the book was

*ANOTHER SORT OF SPOILER*

her relationship with her father (Which strangely seemed more like a subplot in the first half?) and I wasn’t too interested in that. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t too invested in any of the characters to begin with.  As I didn’t finish it, I can’t give a definitive answer on whether it is worth reading because perhaps it just wasn’t for me.

NOT FINISHING BOOKS


“This is what happy looks like” was not the last book I gave up on. Right after this one, I tried to read Frankenstein in graphic novel form but gave up because I was having a hard time following the story. However, just because you put down a book, doesn’t mean that the book is terrible or you weren’t determined enough to get to the end. Every book is a different experience.

I used to believe that if I didn’t finish a book, I wasn’t entitled to an opinion about it because I didn’t read the whole work. Which is why I slogged through books I had no interest in only to say “Ew I hate this why did I even bother GAH” at the end.

So what changed this time? Well, I was telling my friend about this book and how I thought it was quite silly and a little pointless. When I said I was still reading it, she looked at me like I was crazy and said, “If you don’t like it then why are you still reading it??” Well, she had a point. I realised, if I wasn’t enjoying myself, I had the power to stop and pick up something else. I realised that by just putting the dang book down, I could free up time that would have otherwise been lost. Thank goodness for friends with common sense. 

So now, I believe that if you don’t enjoy a book, no matter how much progress you’ve already made, then by all means pick up something else! It isn’t your fault you don’t like the book, so don’t waste your time away. Well…unless this book you’re reading is for an assignment. Then I wish you good luck. (Come to think of it, if it is for an assignment, surely it must have some sort of value? But that is a topic for another time.)

Links to interesting views on this topic:

Ariel Bissett

Thought Catalog

Happy reading

The Queen Of The Tearling — Erika Johansen

Hello there,

I’ve made a list of things that I thought were worth mentioning about the book. But before I get to that…

Important note: Book contains profanities, sexual references and some violence 

Now on to the list! If you’d prefer to skip the list, I also included a TL;DR at the end of this post.

  1. This is the first book I’ve ever read that centers around politics, and it was surprisingly good!
  2. Something a lot of people mention about this book is that it went too slow. I admit, it was definitely slower than most books I’ve read, but I thought it was the right pace for this story and allowed me to get to know the characters well.
  3. Speaking of characters, I felt like I could relate to most of the characters from one viewpoint or another. Even when it came to the typically more “villainous” characters, I did not feel like they were just cardboard cutouts to be pelted with eggs. Instead, they were fully fleshed out and all their decisions had their motivations.
  4. Another thing that seemed to bug some readers was that the story was set in a medieval kingdom in the future. Although I did find this a little strange, it never bothered me simply because it was a fantasy novel. How would the Tearling be less believable than a world filled with dragons and monsters? Shouldn’t readers of fantasy expect to suspend their disbelief?
  5. However, what I thought could have been done better was the element of “Magic” in this book. Magic played such a key role in pushing the narrative forward, but it was never explored in as much depth as it could have been. Perhaps this particular facet will be explored in the sequels, which I will be getting to when I have the time.
  6. Little side note: I’m studying for my SAT test and this book exposed me to foreign words and expressions that I wouldn’t normally get from the Young Adult books I usually read.

TL;DR — I enjoyed the book immensely and will be picking up the sequels 🙂

Happy reading

Where’d you go Bernadette — Maria Semple

Hello there,

I read this book a long while ago but I distinctly remember it making me laugh. What I really enjoyed was the format of the book. It was written in the form of email exchanges, letters and invoices, providing glimpses and clues into the lives of Bernadette and her family. I also enjoyed delving into Bernadette’s life as an architect and what happened after. I particularly liked Bee, Bernadette’s daughter. I’m not sure why but maybe because I saw a little bit of myself in her, the ambition and quirkiness , traits I *believe* I possess (probably not). Even so, it was a crazy adventure all in all, with funny bits, albeit a predictable conclusion. (I personally didn’t guess, but it was glaringly obvious in hindsight)

Happy reading

More than this — Patrick Ness

Hello there,

Patrick Ness has done it again and what a wonderful sight it was to behold. This book is the third book I have read by the same author and he is starting to cement his place in my book as one of my favourite authors.

I’m glad I took the advice to go into this book without knowing much about it. You can dive into this book without reading the synopsis and you’d still be on the same page as anyone else who did. It is shrouded in an air of mystery, which could have backfired but it worked beautifully.

I only have one small issue with this book. The ending, and this is for two reasons:

  1. The book ended
  2. How it ended

Nonetheless, I was always at the edge of my seat, immersing myself in the world that Ness has created. That was more than enough to compensate for the love-it or hate-it ending.

Happy reading

The knife of never letting go — Patrick Ness

Hello there,

When I started the book, it looked like I was going to give up on it after a few pages. The language was strange and I had no idea what was going on. It carried on like that for quite a while. The going was slow and I didn’t feel like reading it. However, I’m glad I decided to push through because after the first part of the book, the pace quickened and I found myself immersed in the world of these characters. I subsequently flew through the pages and found myself eagerly waiting for the moment I can finally get my hands on the second and third books of the trilogy. Hopefully, they will only get better and better.

Happy reading

 

Luka and the fire of life — Salman Rushdie

Hello there,

This was my first Salman Rushdie book. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it turned out to be quite an interesting story. The fantasy part of it and “exploring” the world that he created was the best part. The characters were also quite likable. All in all I think this book would intrigue younger readers and maybe even open them up to reading his other works. But for me, I didn’t find this one fantastic. Despite that, I’m still going to try out his other titles.

Happy reading