Monday, January 9, 2017

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee

In The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Buzbee, a former bookseller and sales representative, celebrates the unique experience of the bookstore--the smell and touch of books, getting lost in the deep canyons of shelves, and the silent community of readers. He shares his passion for books, which began with ordering through The Weekly Reader in grade school. Interwoven throughout is an historical account of the bookseller's trade--from the great Alexandria library with an estimated one million papyrus scrolls to Sylvia Beach's famous Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, which led to the effort to publish and sell James Joyce's Ulysses during the 1920s. GOODREADS

The easy way to explain this little book of delight to people is to say, it's a life story about a person who loves books. As a bookworm, reading about another bookworms life, I found it easy to identify with a lot things. The wonderful sensation of walking into a bookstore, that temptation to rescue a book from a neglected corner, the sense of connection to the other people in a bookstore browsing.  There's just so much, that I don't feel alone in my world. I know there are others like me out there now.

This book was definitely a surprise and went beyond expectations. There are interesting bookish adventure stories that a fellow bookworm can identify with, wonderful tidbits about the book trade and the history of books.  I would like to have my own bookstore in the future so this book was definitely enlightening. The history parts of the book were amazing, I actually found myself chuckling once or twice under my breath ( I was a t work).

This is definitely a book you should pick up fellow bookworms.   

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Shadows by J.R Ward

Trez “Latimer” doesn’t really exist. And not just because the identity was created so that a Shadow could function in the underbelly of the human world. Sold by his parents to the Queen of the S’Hsibe as a child, Trez escaped the Territory and has been a pimp and an enforcer in Caldwell, NY for years- all the while on the run from a destiny of sexual servitude. He’s never had anyone he could totally rely on... except for his brother, iAm.

iAm’s sole goal has always been to keep his brother from self-destructing- and he knows he’s failed. It’s not until the Chosen Serena enters Trez’s life that the male begins to turn things around... but by then it’s too late. The pledge to mate the Queen’s daughter comes due and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no negotiating.

Trapped between his heart and a fate he never volunteered for, Trez must decide whether to endanger himself and others- or forever leave behind the female he’s in love with. But then an unimaginable tragedy strikes and changes everything. Staring out over an emotional abyss, Trez must find a reason to go on or risk losing himself and his soul forever. And iAm, in the name of brotherly love, is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice...

It's been a long time since I've actually been engrossed in a book. A very long time. I'm happy to say that The Shadows was such a good read, so good it reminded me of not only why I so much adore the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but also reading. I was drawn in by the very first chapters, with the simplistic and enjoyably gangsta writing of the Warden. The references to pop culture, the brothers!, especially Rhage. The set up for Ward's upcoming spin-off series, Legacy, centering around the training of new recruits and more of the brothers, as we knew them from the earlier books. 

I was excited that there was a new book coming out, because it was a BDB book and not so much because of iAm and Trez. I liked these characters before, but I didn't like the set up in The King (DNF). However, I was very surprised by The Shadows. I loved how there wasn't too much of a spotlight on the back-story, it was done in even portions spread throughout the book. Trez and Selena's story was already set up in The King ( I think), so things pick up very fast and progressed nicely. Although, if this was solely a Trez-Selena love story the book wouldn't have been as enjoyable. It would have been your cliche lover-dying-of-deathly-sickness-story. There was a lot going on in the background with the other characters and, iAm, which made this so amazing.

There was less Lesser-centered conflicts. I like the Lessers as the main villains in the BDB universe, but I found them to have had a too much of a big role in previous books. I'd rather focus on the Brothers than have to be in the minds of dumb evil Lessers, because clearly they're less fun. The Shadows has successfully used the Lessers as a villain without having to give them too much attention.

We also see a mutiny take place in the Band of Bastards (BoB). A failed mutiny, Throe tries to undermine and take over the BoB by arguing that their leader, Xcor has become weak. I.e. Xcor has become whipped, because he has become infatuated with a Chosen (layla). Xcor is very impressive when he tells his men they can choose between him and Dumbass Throe, which to his surprise they all choose to stay with Xcor. This was a nice scene, because maybe it means the BoB are turning into good guys ( anti-heroes?). Seeing as Xcor now recognizes Wrath as a democratically chosen leader and no longer wants to take over the throne.  Throe on the other hand defecting means we have a new villain (which I highly think is a possibility, the dude is up to no good).

Hollywoooooodddd yeah! Any self-respecting BDB fan loves Rhage. Dude can turn into a dragon and I bet since Lover Eternal, you haven't looked at a tootsie roll the same way. Rhage is experiencing panic attacks and what I think could be PTSD ( then again I'm pretty sure they all have PTSD). What made this all the more interesting was that Trez and Selena's situation resembled his and Mary's. and V and Jane's situation, but could end up like Tohr's and Wellsie. Rhage is having difficulties dealing with all of this and feeling guilty. Feeling bad that this is happening to people he cares about, wishing they can also have a miracle happened to them as it did for him and Mary. But relieved it's not him, which makes him feel guilty. This is great! horrible, yeah for Rhage, but great. I felt like the other similar stories were addressed, because as a reader I felt like Trez and Selena's story had already been done. However, I didn't expect the ending to their story.

In the end it seemed more like iAm's story, even though the bulk was focused on Trez and Selena's romance.  It was a sad ending, I didn't cry but I was moved.....a tiny bit.

Note, Lassiter !! I luv him! He's amazing and the banter between Lassy and the brothers delivers as always.

What are you doing ? Go read this one now!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Far in the future, the World Controllers have finally created the ideal society. In laboratories worldwide, genetic science has brought the human race to perfection. From the Alpha-Plus mandarin class to the Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons, designed to perform menial tasks, man is bred and educated to be blissfully content with his pre-destined role.

But, in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, Bernard Marx is unhappy. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, feeling only distaste for the endless pleasures of compulsory promiscuity, Bernard has an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…GOODREADS

O brave new world !? No, no thank you. I'd much prefer this cruel and horrible reality than be cowardly. Brave New World and 1984 have always been two books on my TBR list that I've thrown in the same category; not even having read them yet. I expected to enjoy 1984 more than Brave New World, however Brave New World turned out to be easier and more engaging than 1984 ( which I have yet to finish).

The story starts out with an exposition of the laboratory where the mass human capital is produced and more information of how the future society works and is structured. I personally enjoyed these starting chapters, even if some of the science stuff escaped me, The process of producing human beings like that and conditioning them was very sociologically interesting to me. However , the scene where babies were being "conditioned" to hate reading and flowers was disturbing. The entire method used to condition people was disturbing. People are being conditioned to accept their place in society and like it and not want to rise above their stations. To do their jobs, enjoy and buy new things. Work and enjoyment ! Everybody belongs to everybody. Individuality isn't allowed neither is monogamy. 

Bernard Marx is our main character at some point this changes to the Savage. Bernard Marx was disappointing, I first thought it would be interesting. He would be a self-aware member of this superficial society, however that's not the case. Bernard Black is an Alpha, a status that grants him certain privileges but, he's defected. He's shorter than normal alphas and is bullied by other alphas and is not recognized as an alpha by people below him. This has caused him to question things and that makes him self-aware. Then again, if he wasn't defected and treated so unfairly, would he still have become self-aware? This makes him an interesting character. But Bernard after returning from the Savage Reservations becomes popular and receives a lot of attention from his peers. He becomes the alpha he was meant to be. This was disappointing in a way and answers my question, no,  he would not have become self-aware.

Bernard and Lenina go on a trip to the Savage Reservations. Life in the Reservations is suppose to depict the old and imperfect life. The uncivilized life , I felt uncomfortable about this, because it felt a lot like the stereotype people might have of natives and how they're "uncivilized"'.  Even Lenina's reaction to life in the reservation was strongly ethnocentric.This wasn't a shock though, I suppose it is to be expected. The conditions in the Reservation were horrible and don't adequately show what the other imperfect life was really like. I assumed the 'uncivilized'; the opposite would be houses with normal families and traditional cultures. NOT a place that resembles a prison for people who wouldn't conform. In this place Bernard finds the Savage, the child of Linda somebody from the civilized world who got stuck in the reservation. Bernard brings the savage back to the civilized world.

Enter the Savage: The Savage is my favorite character  and succeeds where Bernard failed. The Savage is a stronger character ( well excluding him being young and having a severe case of blue balls). Him being from the reservation means he was never conditioned in the way Bernard and Co were and was very critical of the Brave new world he was in. The Savage learned to read in the Reservation and he read a lot of Shakespeare . I liked this about the Savage because he used Shakespeare to convey his thoughts, however this had a downside, because when Lenina makes sexual advances to the Savage he reacts badly. He reacts like an idiot, but I suppose only reading Shakespearean plays isn't the right way to from a very strong opinion of women.

The last chapters and the ending were interesting and entertaining. If I were to use one word to describe how the book ends. Well, I'll just say it was a............. tragedy.  


Monday, January 12, 2015

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith

A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide.

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

The motivation behind reading this book is, yeah you guessed it. J.K Rowling, I'm a fan of hers and therefore must devour all of  her books and when presented with the opportunity to read "The Cuckoo's Calling" one does not simply refuse.

I like a good crime novel just like any other reader and I've read my fair number. There's a bunch of them out there with good plots, some might even argue that those are better than this one. But even though there's a vast number out there we can't possibly read them all. 

The Cuckoo's Calling is that old school kind of detective novel. At least that's the kind of feeling it evokes from me. The writing is brilliant. I love it, it's soothing, if that makes any sense. It's nice to delve into the story by the way it's written. 

The start of the story is done very well also. It starts off with Robin, the soon to be secretary of our main character. We start off from her POV then she, as it were, takes us to our main man, Cormoran Strike. The only thing I'm going to say about their first meeting is...well, it was very grabbing.

Cormoran Strike is a great character. He's a former soldier with a prosthetic leg. He's a bit depressing at times, but also very human...(I'm going with that). He's also not created as some extremely sexy male lead as I'm used to in most books these days.

The other favorable mentions when it comes to characters: Robin becomes Strike's secretary. She's a very good one and has some kind of fascination with the job. She and Cormoran become friends in the end (kind of). The person I really want to highlight here, is Cormorans ex-girlfriend. I'm not sure why, but she really makes me curious..or maybe I've made her out to be some kind of crazy person.

The story unfolds very slowly in my opinion, but the good writing makes it worth the wait. Everything fits together nicely in the end. It's a great book in itself, but so are many others and I don't know what makes this one exceptional.It would be your choice in the end. I, however will be reading the sequel if there is one. 


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Think Out Loud #14

Think Out Loud.
This is a weekly meme used for bloggers
to post something they would normally not post.
So, post whatever YOU want!

My literary highlights and downsides of 2014

O Brave New World, 2015 is  upon us! Are we entering a more enlightened age or...are we falling into the rabbit hole backwards to 1984. I'll leave it to time to answer that. I suppose doom and gloom isn't very cheery to start the new year with, so I won't bore you with my apprehension for the future of mankind. I'll just stick to literature, our one true love and drug.

2014 wasn't a particularly good year for reading. I was way too busy with college and stressing about college to actively and properly READ. Of course this doesn't mean I read nothing. ha.ha. I read some books, considering college I challenged myself to read less books. I started out with a goal of 20 ( college is important...) then I hit my mark and adjusted it to 30 ( ..procrastination set in). I hit the mark again and just kept reading. I ended up setting it to 50 and unfortunately I didn't hit this mark. I ended 2014 having read 44 books. Anyways..

Let's get this show on the road, here are my literary highlights and downsides from 2014:

-+ According to Goodreads the longest book I've read this year is Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon with 836 pages. I was really looking forward to Styxx's story, although I was a bit disappointed.  The cover is nice though: the color and the bird...thing...

+ Another book I was looking forward to reading was Dark Skye by Kresely Cole: I was counting the days to Dark Skye and going insane with excitement. Melanth and Throno's story was one I was eager to read. Just like Styxx, only it wasn't disappointing. Lots of hate and love stuff and NIX! It did get sappy towards the end but it's to be expected. The cover sucked -->

-+ Mockingjay lives ! My friends and I went to watch the first part of the Mockingjay movie. It was an exciting and surprising night. I felt guilty joining in on the frenzy to watch the movie because the hype around the movie felt contradicting to the book's message. Almost like we, the viewers, were going to the arena to watch Katniss in the Games. Also Mockingjay the book wasn't the most cheery book of the series. The night turned out great and inspirational. We all wore our mockingjay necklaces and one wore a pin, who we continued to refer to as Madge. The first part of the movie seemed a bit lighter than the book, I suppose the heavy part will be in part 2. The scene where president Snow talks about and denounces the Mockingjay symbol as criminal made me feel like a rebel! And fear for my life while being thankful it was just a movie. ( but is it? recent developments make what the Hunger Games is about very relevant).

-+ I watched Divergent (Veronica Roth) and read the book. The movie was sociologically interesting. The way society was constructed and the division into factions got me interested in the book ( which I was reluctant to read) also Theo James. The concept of factions angers me and fascinates me.  It would have been better if people were free to choose their place rather than forced into one. I'd rather be factionless than dance to societies warped and butthurt ideas of efficiency......of course, I'd die homeless and hungry. The book wasn't as engaging as the movie; I read spoilers on it and ...what happens in Alegiant depressed and discouraged me enough not to continue with this series.

+ Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan, the spin off series to the Percy Jackson series. This was an awesome series. The introduction of an alternative halblood camp was fantastic. A roman counterpart to the Greeks camp halfblood. Unlike my friends, I enjoyed the Romans camp Jupiter: the discipline and order. Less magic and humor but still good. Although I respect the Romans way , I'd still pick camp half-blood. My favorite characters out of the seven was Leo. I identified with Leo more, him being the the seventh wheel and him using Morse code the way I use Korean. Further more I liked the diversity of the group.

+ This year I read more Shakespeare and more Jane Austin! Shakespeare is awesome, if you disagree you just need to give the guy a chance. If you still can't get into it, then wait a couple of years and try again.  I finished Taming of the Shrew this year, a book I started reading years ago. It was different than what I expected. Hamlet! This is easily my favorite for this year! I went to watch the Globe theater performance of the play! And  it's one of the most memorable things of the year!....From now on ask my what I'm reading and I'll say words, words,words!

+ Jane Austen, I'd like to think I'm an austenite now. Persuasion and Northanger Abby were amazing! Captain Wentworth's letter was so moving: half agony, half hope.  I finally got to watch the 2005 movie of Pride and Prejudice and it was moving, Darcy's proposing scene in the rain, the way he whispers .."please.." had me overwhelmed-like. Jane Austen has bewitched me body and soul and I love,love,love her! 

+ finally read some more Neil Geiman!
+ A friend let me burrow her E-reader and added a bunch of my TBR books on it. Giving me the opportunity to read more Neil Geiman, Shakespeare and Jane Austen books. Although I prefer the printed word, I now have a better understand of both sides of the book VS Ebooks debate. 
+ I also got to do a buddy-read with her, we're both currently reading the Hallows series by *Kim Harrison. 
+ I got an editor now. ClarA RowlKin.

+ The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K Rowling! I was happy to get the opportunity to read this book. If it wasn't JKR who wrote it, I'm not sure I would have read it. It's true my interest for the book stems from my HP bias. Either way the book in it self is wonderful. It's not the most original story, but the way it's written and the characters is what make it a winner. Reading this book was magic! it's far from modern simplistic writing we find now in some YA novels. This is easily one of the most well written books I've read in 2014. Well next to Practical Magic.

+ Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman was a whole different experience. It was magic as well. I'm a fan of the movie and finally got around to reading the book. The writing really gives that homey feel the movie gave. However the movie pales in contrast to the book. The book was more dramatic and scary.
+ The Page has mascots now! pandas ( Haru and Sofia)
- The page went on hiatus because college sucks the fun out of everything. 
- I decided to no longer accept review submissions. 

It seems I read some awesome quality books this year to compensate for the quantity of books. As I look to the year 2015 , I'm thinking I should dedicate the year to some classic books, to downsizing my TBR list and to start reading some of those new authors and books I've been eyeing. Like Kurt Vonnegut, Harukami, Hemingway, the Art of War, The Island of Dr. Moreau. Of course more Shakespeare and Jane Austen. NO Mark Twain! and definitely The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I suppose I have my literary resolutions down as well. Tell me yours in the comments below and have an awesome new year, you filthy animals!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It by Stephen King

The story follows the exploits of seven children as they are terrorized by an eponymous being, which exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. "It" primarily appears in the form of a clown in order to attract its preferred prey of young children. The novel is told through narratives alternating between two time periods, and is largely told in the third-person omniscient mode. It deals with themes which would eventually become King staples: the power of memory, childhood trauma, and the ugliness lurking behind a façade of traditional small-town values.GOODREADS

"The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years-if it ever did-began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain" ch.1pg.3

I started reading It in 2011 and then abruptly put it aside for a while....alright for two years. Not that I was scared or anything.......

Although I stopped reading in 2011 the first chapter has always lingered in my mind. It's to me a very well described and memorable start. On a rainy day a paper boat sailing down the gutters. A boy in yellow slickers and red galoshes in its wake. I can see it! Other memorable scenes that have stayed with me since I started in 2011, is when somebody talks through the sink addressing a strange voice that says "it's legion". This is also when I stopped reading because if there are voices coming from your sink you run like hell!

It's a lengthy book of 1090 pages that spans over 28 years. From beginning to the end you'll feel like you're friends with the characters  (the Losers) and the ending will be bittersweet. 

The seven children are the main characters and they refer to themselves as The Losers. Yes, it's sad. Each of them have their own distinguishing characteristic. Bill's the leader who grows up to be a writer and Ben an architect.  They all have some talents and some weaknesses which when confronted by the evil "It" they overcome together. Friendship is a theme here and something that's lost in the end. That's what makes the ending bittersweet. 

While reading "It" something interesting to ponder is, what It actually IS. At some point in the middle It's something that takes the form of the thing you fear the most. Conclusion It's a.......BOGGART! Ha! And being a Ravenclaw myself with some Defense Against the Dark Arts Training this monster is just riddikulus. Well it was, up till the story changed and more was known about where It came from ...from out there. So It's an alien?

However at the final showdown we learn that It's something that existed before the universe. I was reading the book together with a friend of mine and after seriously discussing what to call it we've decided on classifying It as  a Primordial being. Although calling It an alien works for me too.

The characterization is really well done and I love it. Even some of the villain like characters have some intriguing backstories. Like Patrick Hockstetter one of the bullies. A boy who kills things and puts them in a fridge and believes he alone, exists. Patrick is a monster but then what is It? Or Eddy's mother or Henry Bowers background?

Something surprising was the addition of It's POV at the last showdown. I'd definitely recommend this although I'd advise not to read it at night. It's not as scary (bad) as Pet Sematary. On a side note, I'd also suggest Danse Macabre (by Stephen King) as a companion to any Stephen King books you're planning on reading. In this case for this book. I haven't finished Danse Macabre, but chapter two was very insightful and useful when reading It. 

Happy reading!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Think out Loud #13

Think Out Loud.
This is a weekly meme used for bloggers
to post something they would normally not post.
So, post whatever YOU want!

This weeks Think out Loud by ClarA RowlKin

This is my first attempt at this, so be gentle ;)

I went on my first trip out of the country! I’d love to tell you a little about it. I went to Curaçao with my parents and boyfriend and his cousin in the first week of October. We had to check in at 3 am, so I was pretty sleepy. I didn’t really explore the airport either.

Finally at 5 something a.m we boarded the plane. It took a while before we took off, but it felt so strange. I was upset I didn’t get to experience this with my boyfriend next to me since it was our first time in an airplane. I slept for most of the plane ride. We stopped in Trinidad for 45 minutes, after which we directly flew to Curaçao.

We were picked up by the lady at whose apartment building we were staying at. She was very nice and told us a little about the island on the drive. The apartment was smaller than I expected, but it had a pool and a beautiful patio, so I didn’t really mind. Later I realized that the house we were staying had a nameplate in the front that said: “Fam. Gerritsen”. How awesome is that!

I felt very itchy that day, so I showered. After which I sat on the bed and looked at myself. I saw red spots everywhere! I showed my boyfriend and my mother. She thought and we hoped it was a rash caused by the jacket I was wearing, but it was chikungunya. So I was sick and in pain the first 4 days of my vacation, which sucked.
But I got to swim in the sea and go to most of the beaches. I also loved swimming in the pool at the apartment. I got to drink a lot of ice tea and had Starbucks coffee and bubble tea for the first time. Despite my sickness I enjoyed my vacation. I did look for bookstores, but I didn't find one in the city. Another reason to visit the island again. I really wanted to buy a book to read in the plane, but since I didn't find a bookstore I just bought a magazine and puzzle book.

We stayed for 7 days, but I didn't feel like leaving yet. It was so amazing. At the airport, to kill time, we browsed in the shops. They sold books, but they were so expensive. My boyfriend called me to come to the book rack he was standing by. From afar I saw The Fault in Our Stars, so I quickly walked over. I picked up the book and it was A HARD COVER COPY!! But my boyfriend told me to close my eyes. I did and he put a book in my hand. That book was……….  THE CASUAL VACANCY by the one and only J.K. Rowling. And of course I bought it!
I literally almost cried. It was a bittersweet day.. sigh.. If my little blogger bestie has the time, she’ll write a review. After I’ve read it of course.

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