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Posts Tagged ‘book review’


The bond between two sisters broken by circumstances beyond their control.

Beautiful.

The sounds, the smells and all textures come into play.

And I wonder why I shelved this for a while in favor of another book which I read in one day.

Renita D’ Silva is quite new in the league of  new authors that I follow. I don’t normally summarize the story when I review a book. Suffice to say, it was told in a perspective of both sisters when they were growing up. They had alternating narratives.  I had another glimpse of India, how the poor struggle to make both ends meet, how arranged marriages are made and such.  D’Silva tells the story in such a way that the words are pure bliss, how poetic. I am posting some excerpts here close to the end of the beautiful book.

“And seeing her son encircled in her sister’s arms, Puja, for the first time in twenty years, gets a glimpse into a future that is unburdened by the follies of the past, but lifted up on the tentative wings of optimism, bright as light percolating into an overcast day and feeding it the promise of the brilliance to come. She breathes in deeply and tastes buoyancy, the soft pink of a tender bloom unfurling cautiously in the caress of spring.”

“We are only human in the end.”

“We waste the little time we are given in this world on immaterial things, not the things that really matter. And then, when it is far too late, we long for one more moment together, a moment which, if bestowed, we will draw out and treasure, a moment in which we will say all those things left unsaid, a moment into which we will cram a lifetime’s worth of good times.” 

I seldom give 5 stars to a book but this is one of them. Wow, 27 books ahead of schedule.

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Just done with another book by Charles Martin called Where The River Ends. a beautiful story about love, commitment, sacrifice and a journey of faith as well.

I can totally relate because I’ve been there too almost eleven years ago. The only difference is that this is a work of fiction while my experience was real.  You know that thing they call slash, poison and burn. Went through the slash thing followed by poison but luckily, I didn’t undergo the burn option. when you think of those days that you have been incapacitated and you lived by faith and trust in God, you feel lucky that you were given a second chance at life.

Martin writes from the heart. The harsh realities of undergoing chemotherapy treatment, the almost lifeless  feeling once you are done with one session of it, the hope, the despair and when relationships go awry because your partner cannot cope with the emotional side of things. This is true in real life. This is actually my 8th read of his books and I love them all. I am actually looking for more.

 

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Have you ever read a book based on its title and book cover?

I did. I do.

Lately, I started my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge. I have read 15 books so far, an eclectic mix of memoirs, fairy tales, children’s books, fiction and historical books. I just thought it would be a good change to see book titles and book covers, how they were presented, not necessarily authors.  I always read same authors anyway when I find some of their books interesting. Historical books to me always come in first because I love history no matte if the setting was just incorporated in the book itself. There is something wonderful knowing about the early years of man’s existence, how people were able to cope with lesser amenities that we have now. Period stories are fascinating to me.

Of course  it is always a thrill to discover new authors, some recommended by fellow book lovers and some I find online. It is always nice to see a place described in another perspective.  I recently saw Stephen King’s the Green Mile but I am not ready yet to read another Stephen King.  It was years ago when I discovered some of his earlier works and I liked The Shining best. That was followed by my fascination with Robert Ludlum and Richard North Patterson. I had so many Ludlum books before but I lost some of it back in 2009 during a typhoon that flooded our place. Leon Uris came next, history at its best.  I also love the works of Frank McCourt. ‘Tis and Angela’s Ashes are the best.  I also read The Teacher Man. I haven’t discovered yet if he has new books in the market.

Occasionally, I read love stories too. I enjoyed A Hundred Little Flames.  A unique story, an engrossing read.  I am presently reading Dance Upon The Air by Nora Roberts. It has some good reviews on Goodreads. Sometimes though I am challenged by reading some unknown authors and not so good book reviews.

What have you been reading lately? Can you recommend authors that you like?

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I found another lovely book by Peter Mayle. This is my fourth book of him after  reading his first three books. I have made short reviews here before. This is actually my 12th  read this year.

French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew

It’s another memoir about his life in France. He died two years ago and I blogged about it here. I am excited to start this.

I just finished a long fiction called New York. It is a historical novel by British novelist Edward Rutherfurd. Oh my, it’s all of 862 pages, four centuries of life in New York. It used to be called New Amsterdam. The novel chronicles the birth and growth of New York City, from the arrival of the first Dutch and other European colonists in the 17th century to the summer of 2009. Come to think of it, I didn’t even know that it was previously ruled by the British empire. Originally there were only 13 colonies in the whole US of A. It’s actually too long to summarize.

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Take a guess!

I promised myself to blog every day at least during the month of January and I did until the other day.

Bam!

I missed one yesterday. I was again sidetracked reading new books for my Goodreads’ 2020 Reading Challenge. As I have said in one of my previous blogs, I want to read at least 100 books this year, perhaps a far cry from the 150 books I read last year. I am choosing what to read first, start the year right by inspiring myself in the process.

The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon.

Started reading Amy Harmon last year and I am quite surprised about her books. This is my fifth book of Amy Harmon, different subjects except for the two books done in two series. A unique, powerful, intense and emotional story about an abandoned baby who grew up to be an artist and a girl who believed in him despite the odds. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and happy endings. I ‘d like to think this is a love story but there is more to it than just cuddles and kisses, it will tug at your heartstrings. Moses, someone you’ll probably hate in the middle of the story but those redeeming qualities show in the end. Georgia, love her character and her strength, a forgiving soul who just loved.

Noel Street by Richard Paul Evans

Perhaps you’ve read a lot about him here before. He is one of my favorite authors. This is his latest book given by a friend last week. It is the third book in the Noel Collection. Luckily, I have all three. It was just published last November 2019.

How’s this for a start?

Every story is a road. And on all roads there are potholes and bumps, detours and unexpected encounters.

I love those quote in every chapter of the book. It’s another Christmas book. The story line maybe predictable but it was a good read. Done reading it in one day.

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

My first book about nature and the first novel by Delia Owens. She writes non-fiction and is a nature writer. I wonder why some readers at Goodreads are not so impressed by her writing. I was though. A coming-of-age and a possible murder. I love the court scenes. I always loved court scenes in books I have previously read. It’s 2018 Goodreads Award Nominee for historical fiction.

Some quotes I like here:

“His dad had told him many times that the definition of a real man is one who cries without shame, reads poetry with his heart, feels opera in his soul, and does what’s necessary to defend a woman.”

“Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.”

“Most of what she knew, she’d learned from the wild. Nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected her when no one else would. If consequences resulted from her behaving differently then they too were functions of life’s fundamental core.”

Would you believe, I gave the three of these books four stars?

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It took me a while to finish reading this one because I was so engrossed watching I Want, a new app on my tab which features selected movies, news, sports, telenovelas, music and what have you all from the largest network in the country, ABS CBN.

The first time I encountered how gifted this writer is, was when I read her book The Memory of Us. Yes, it is one of the best read I had this year. It may not be that good to some but I love the Catholic aspect of the book. A Catholic seminarian falling in love with a girl of another religion. This is more of a love story than what happened during WWII.

The Way of Beauty  is simply beautiful. Another Di Maio book that I love. when you encounter stories like this, you are inspired to read more.

I looked for more of her books until I found Before The Rain Falls. It’s the story  of how families protect each other, how they show their love, how they encourage each other to excel. It’s the story of a life in prison.

Part of the synopsis reads: “Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers―about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life.”

I love the characters of Mick and Paloma but Della’s stand out more. Hoping I could read more books by this author. I just love her writing style.

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There is really something exciting about discovering new books and authors. They become part of your reading life. Damyanti, an author and a friend here at WordPress said she is curious about my “to be read” list  of books. I guess, they’ll get me through next year’s book challenge at Goodreads. I  will only list those which I am excited to read until the end of the year.

  1. Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales – excited to start reading this. There is a story behind every tale that he tells.
  2. Ken Follet: Night Over Water – I’ve always been a fan of this great  writer. I have a complete set of his Kingsbridge series and I love Pillars of the Earth best. I have his other books as well.
  3. The Bone Collector: Who would not be thrilled to find another book by Jeffrey Deaver? Accordingly, it is one of his best.
  4. Down Where My Love Lives by Charles Martin. I discovered him two years ago I think and read most of his books. According to Goodreads, “it  is a bittersweet yet triumphant love story—a tale of one man’s spiritual journey through the darkness of despair into the light of hope”.  Most of his books deal on triumphs, faith and they are spiritual too.
  5. Anthony Doerr’s About Grace. First encountered him in All The Light We Cannot See,  a Goodreads Choice 2014 Winner.
  6. The Throwaway Children by Diney Costeloe. – My first book of Diney Costeloe, the story of two sisters sent first to an English, then an Australian orphanage in the aftermath of World War 2.
  7. Matilda by Roald Dahl – Most of you have probably read this already. Matilda is a child who is a book lover.
  8. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – been curious about this since it was published.
  9. Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans. RPE is my favorite author. This is one book that I didn’t have before.
  10. I  Am David by Anne Holm – This has been on my wishlist for so long. David’s entire twelve-year life has been spent in a grisly prison camp in Eastern Europe. He knows nothing of the outside world.

I also have two classic books by Ernest Hemingway, For Whom The Bells Tolls and A Farewell To Arms. 

Some  books on this list are e-books.  Have you read any on this list?

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Oh I know, it’s probably a “no big deal” for some but it is an achievement for me.

I am finally done with my reading challenge at Goodreads for this year. Here is a message from Goodreads:

Congrats!

You have read 120 books of your goal of 120!

120/120 (100%)
The last book I read is entitled Flowers in the  Snow by Danielle Stewart.
“Sometimes a hug is the only way to squeeze someone’s worry away.”
Racism.
I read a few books before about this subject matter but this one grips you like no other. Come to think of it, I didn’t know this was a series until I read it is book #1. I would love to read the others if I am lucky enough to find them.
When you and your family are divided by your own beliefs and ideologies, you try to find people who would understand. This is a story of three friends, one is black but she found friendship with two others who belong to the other side of the fence. And those two found a lasting friendship with the family of their black friend.
This was told through flashbacks on what happened in the past but it was a lovely read. Easy on the eyes and easier still to get into the story.
Here’s a synopsis of the story from Amazon.com:

In the 1960s, Edenville, North Carolina is full of rules. Sagging under the weight of racism and segregation the small community finds itself at a dangerous tipping point.

Eleven-year-old Betty Grafton believes the world is fair. She knows there are worse places to live than Edenville. Unaware of the wars waging around her, she spends her days patting horses in the field and running errands for her mother. The world she doesn’t see, full of turmoil and unrest, is hiding just below the surface. One day, she has no choice but to see what’s been right in front of her all along.

Alma knows where to walk. She knows who to talk to and which fountain she can drink out of. Her mother, Winnie, spares no opportunity to remind her how dangerous it is to be a little black girl in the South.

When a chance encounter puts Betty face to face with the peril that exists in her own hometown, everything she knows turns upside down. The world isn’t as fair or safe as she’d imagined. Her family is the Klan. Her friends are the enemy. And nothing makes sense anymore.

Although the world demands they stay apart, Alma and Betty forge a secret friendship. One that could cost them their lives.

I gave this five stars in Goodreads, a nice ending of  a book for this year’s challenge.

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On my way home from SM Megamall where I bought a bottle of Vitamin D, I chanced upon this freshly harvested cassava and bought more than a kilo. I’ve always craved for this when it is in season. Cooked simply boiled in coconut cream, it is so yummy.

Are some of you familiar with this? I wonder if it is also grown in other Asian countries like ours. Some also make cassava cake out of this. But that is more difficult to do than simply boiling it.

Oh my, I just finished my 106th book for this year’s Goodreads challenge. Only 14 more books to go then I am done. It’s been a while since I read a biography. Most that I encountered were memoirs, written by the authors themselves. This one is about the life of an unknown Kennedy and her struggles.

Knowing more about the Kennedys. This time a daughter who was hidden from the world because of mental illness. When I read the book Johnny We hardly Knew Ye a long, long time ago, I was fascinated by JFK’s political career and it was a good read. Rosemary was loved by her family, she was given all those choiced schools and caregivers so she could live a life close to normal. She reached a ripe old age of 86. It was nice reading about how the Kennedys survived the ordeal of having a mentally challenged daughter compared to her gifted and intelligent siblings.

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

She was the oldest daughter born to Joseph Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, sister to Pres. John F. Kennedy and to the senators Robert and Ted Kennedy. She was intellectually disabled and had a separate schooling from other students.

I’ve always been an admirer of the Kennedy clan and  I enjoyed looking at all the pictures included in the biography.

One good read for this year’s challenge.

 

 

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My gosh, I got so engrossed reading another book about Korea that I only opened my WordPress blog for a few minutes this morning.

It’s North  Korea this time. It’s entitled Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives In North Korea by Barbara Demick.

Nothing To Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population. 

By the way, Kim Jong-un became the supreme leader of North Korea in 2011, succeeding his father Kim Jong-il.

The book speaks from the eyes of defectors who are now living in South Korea or China.  Getting a look inside this closed country, seeing the outside world though the eyes of those who escaped. If Pachinko was a riveting tale of how Korea was before the country’s division and during the Japanese Occupation, in this book you get to see how  people lived in North Korea when it was finally divided. It’s like a continuation of where Pachinko left off.

Here’s how the author described a world of those who were indoctrinated since birth.

“North Korea invites parody. We laugh at the excesses of the propaganda and the gullibility of the people. But consider that their indoctrination began in infancy, during the fourteen-hour days spent in factory day-care centers; that for the subsequent fifty years, every song, film, newspaper article, and billboard was designed to deify Kim Il-sung; that the country was hermetically sealed to keep out anything that might cast doubt on Kim Il-sung’s divinity. Who could possibly resist?”

I haven’t actually finished the book yet but it is even more interesting and riveting than the previous book I read about the country.

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