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DamienLovecraft

theguywhoreads

When I pick a book up, I am travelling to a distant place and some times I become one of the characters in a book. My love for stories are the ones that begin and end where fiction is more honest than reality.

Currently reading

The King of Attolia (Queen's Thief)
Megan Whalen Turner
Progress: 72/432 pages
A Court of Wings and Ruin
Sarah J. Maas
Progress: 67/648 pages

The Quest of The Last Gunslinger (The Beginning of The Dark Tower Series)

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger - Stephen King

I had been curious about The Dark Tower for a long time. Since it was published until now, I never did read one book of it. When I heard about the movie adaptation, what compels me to read now was due to the movie. Of course, this year is truly the year of the King...

 

... and for once, reading The Gunslinger, the first book of the series truly peeks my curiosity on a whole different level. And much better than the movie.

 

It begins where a lone man walks into a town, looking for a man in black. He meets the town's folk (almost a ghost town) and soon, the presence of the man in black had corrupted the whole town. Along the way, he met a boy name Jake Chambers, descriptions of another world similar to ours and of course, origins of the gunslinger, mutants and finally meeting the man in black and in the end... another quest.

 

For me, I love the universe created by Stephen King but the plot itself felt ambiguous. While the journey is all about journeying to meet the man in black and going to the dark tower without revealing the purpose, I believed maybe the rest of the novels will. Still, I do enjoy the writing and as always, Stephen King tried his best to deliver some thing ambitious then (he did admit as the series progress, there were changes in his words of when he was young when he wrote and the maturity of his writing towards the end of the series). The Gunslinger works to some extend and hopefully, the rest of the book will explain further once I started reading The Drawing of the Three.

The Sequel That Is So Clever and Deceptively Delicious.

The Queen of Attolia (Queen's Thief) - Megan Whalen Turner

Sequels are not an easy read, especially if the author able to write better than the first book. When I read The Thief, I read without any expectations but based upon reviews after reviews from other readers. It is a book that is well-written, filled with a historical universe created rich with myths and adventure. Characters to love and to hate. I felt a lot of great wealth and although, it does felt like a quest story, there is a surprise twist towards the end.

 

The Queen of Attolia is not just more, its some thing so unimaginable that is way beyond my expectations. I finally understood why many readers felt this is a younger adult version of Game of Thrones. The politics, the lies and a war between nations cleverly woven into one epic sequel I have never thought I would be satisfied with contentment.

 

As it is, we follow where Eugenides was left off. He said he could steal anything - steal a man, steal a queen and even a nation to have peace - and he without a doubt, truthful to his words. As a worshiped thief of Eddis and known to his enemies of what he can truly do, war broke out among nations. Politics became dirty, the queen of Attolia trying to do what's best for her nation and the rest is filled with more twist than you can count and you never realize you wanted to read the next chapter it became natural for you to turn the next page. Still, can Eugenides able to do what he said he can do? I was more than surprise that blew my mind that I can't wait to read the next book.

 

There is so much more in The Queen of Attolia - there's more twist, more surprises and more intrigued than before. I love Eugenides and I never thought I would. A written character that surprises me in many ways that shows a whole lot of character is a rarity for me. I never love a fictional character this much but this is one of those that won my heart so much. There is more of EddisMedes and Attolia now and there is so much difference between the first book and this one. Now what deserves a five star rating is truly the story. Every thing in this book is phenomenal. I laugh, shocked, and more than before and even stunned by its delivery. And not just that, the style of writing just begs to be more than it was before. I just can't stop enjoying how wonderful this book is and I am so glad that I started reading this series. Megan Whalen Turner is now my third favorite author and I will read (or wait) any books she will write and will even queued for any of her upcoming books.

A Disturbingly Charming Read

Eileen: A Novel - Ottessa Moshfegh

Reading Eileen is a challenge of acceptance. One that is far from being the norm, especially when it comes to understanding human nature at its worst flaw. I read Eileen because of an upcoming book discussion and one of the things that caught my attention was the analytical approach of its description of why 'people are the way they are' in the things they do we are ashamed to talk about. I try to find the main plot line on this book but its actually about a girl (title character) on her last days on a fictional place of what had happened to her and the people she meets along the way before she leaves town. There isn't much of a plot but there is some thing about the writing that is honest and truthful that I tend to agree that what was not dared said is bare here.

 

Eileen is written in a first person of a past memory that she wants to share with the readers. Why she wanted to leave the place she was born, her relationship with her father, her infatuation with a prison guard, her lifeless job in a children's correctional prison and her habitual past-time habits she isn't ashamed of (like stealing a scarf from a store). Then came a new counselor named Rebecca, a young and beautiful girl who give her more attention than others. What happens next lead to a crime that just give a good reason to leave her home town and never look back. Sounds simple and yet uninteresting right?

 

To be fair, I do find the writing and description so well-written that the one thing that did not escape me is how ugly she made out in words makes it so beautiful and honest. There are things we might be ashamed of writing but Ottessa Moshfegh truly embodies the truth of what we don't talk about with other people. You'll get my meaning when you read it. The other thing was not entirely interesting were the dialogue. It felt flat and fake, which is a contradiction in her writing. On one hand, the description of Eileen's feelings and place and the actions she do was very good but on the other hand, the dialogue is surreal. Its like how bizarre the exchange was between father and daughter is unusual. I just can't picture it too well and that really pull part of the book down. By 2/3's of the book, that's where it becomes interesting. Although it was predictable, its just how well Ottessa capture's Eileen's character at its fullest.

 

While this is actually her first book, its a fast read and an interesting one. I can't help but read it to find out where it is leading and part of me felt this is like American Psycho plotline indie kind of story. As realism gets, its the purpose of Eileen on why she need to leave town that makes it understandable on her reasons of doing that. This is some thing I would recommend people to read because to me, its refreshing. Unlike some authors I read when it comes to writing disgusting scenes, Ottesa makes it sound beautiful in her own way of acceptance, like 'yeah, we do that and that's okay'. For me, it deserves a 4 out of 5 star rating and its a book I would recommend for any readers that accepts true reality of life.

Do We Trust Our Memories As A Child?

Erased, Vol. 1 - Kei Sanbe

Mangas have been a medium of many good stories. From family, romance, comedy, drama to fantasy, science fiction, horror and thriller mystery, it takes a good writer and an artist to craft out an interesting plot to keep the readers kept up following a series. While there are many well-known titles in the market that commonly in love with around the world (like NarutoBleachDragonball or even Doraemon),there are some titles that is under the radar that is good, that is worth reading. One of them was Erased, which I had finished reading earlier this morning.

 

Erased is actually a science-fiction mystery thriller short series about a 29-year old man (Satoru Fujinuma) who dream of being a manga-artist may not come true and has to make-ends-meet as a pizza delivery motorcyclist has an ability to go back in time a few minutes before some thing bad happens. He calls it Revival and this ability it seems is not within his control. He doesn't like it because it brought unwanted attention from people he knows... until one night, when he return home, was the night his mother was murdered. Wanting to stop the murderer from killing his mother, he tries to use 'Revival' to go back in time... only he went back 18 years of his life as a young boy in 1988. Why that particular year? It was the year that a murder case happened that changes every thing from the life he lead that he felt unhappy with.

 

Complicated right? Some how, I felt the plot was quite similar to some stories I have read (I can't place it but I know the similarity was there) but what was more interesting, was the depth of the plot that creator Kei Sanbehad created that makes this manga series worth picking up, and its not because of the cover (which was I first attracted with). Erased isn't any thing new to offer but it was the depth that drawn me the complications and slightly dark characters that I felt worth going for. I like the part where when one is an adult, our memories as a child can be misleading that can't be trusted. Especially, when Satoruwanted to save a girl from being murdered, unsure if he had changed any thing in the past or were they still the same. Further more, his relationship with his mother plays well if whether memories can be trusted if they indeed had a good relationship and things that we can't remember is realistic. Although for me, I do find the murder mystery part did not do a good job in making as a goal, it was what Satoru can or cannot remember that make's the mystery a little more interesting on why he can or can't remember.

 

I am sure after reading the first volume (consist of two mangas) I will be following up this series until the last to find out how it ends but my only hope is that it ends proper. Like most manga titles, there are not many really Japanese writer/artist ends their series well and its always half-hearted that leaves some thing of any good desire.

A Historical Young Adult Novel Introducing An Incorrigible and Loveable Thief That Could Steal Anything...

The Thief (Queen's Thief) - Megan Whalen Turner

I love a good fantasy historical stories. There wasn't any thing that interest me that is simple and enjoyable (although I know there are some good historical fiction novels that are good) but there is one that caught my attention that has a simple title - The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. What was more interesting was how it was written and the characters that are so loveable and incorrigible, I wanted to know more about the world of The Queen's Thief series. But first - The Thief.

It started with a simple setting - a thief was imprison because he got himself into trouble and when a king from Sounis send him a task to steal a legendary stone that was near impossible to obtain because its a tale of legends, the king believe that this thief can steal anything. Accompanied by a magus and two apprentice - their mission is off to Attolia where the legendary stone is.

 

Yes, the plot may seem boring and plain but it was the written and delivery of the work that is most impressive. I was astound by the description of the place, characters and the scenes (action or other wise) as it was so well-written. And then of course, the characters! I love Eugenides - he is witty, funny and (to me) loveable with sarcasm when he delivers smart remarks. Then of course, the tall tales of legends, given in historical form that is interesting, even though have done before. Given much on 2/3 part of the book, there is a twist I did not foresee. Maybe I was too busy dwelling into the world of Attolia but it was done well. Although the introduction of the characters were brief (not much depth is known about the rest of the characters or even Eugenides), I am looking forward for the next book to see what happens next, even though it does feel like it ended in one book (and rather, not in an exciting way).

 

To me, The Thief is well-written. Its not exciting but it does has a way to capture my attention as I read. Its direct to a point, which I like when it comes to reading books, and it doesn't waste a lot of time in explaining back stories or flashbacks. What was more interesting is how Megan Whalen Turner manage to even fill a normal daily chore scene that makes it interesting. For that, The Thief have my 4 out of 5 star rating. On to the next book.

A Book About Existence Found In A Place That Nobody Knows It Exist.

Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel - Fredrik Backman

Stories of slice of life may not be anyone's cup of tea (or coffee). There are times when I read such stories, I don't get move by how its meant to be written. When I read My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry, it was messy to me. Yes, its the point of view from a 7 year-old girl that her grandmother send her a quest of fairy tale stories that sort of mixed up with reality... for me, I can't tell which is which. Then came the unexpected spin-off - Britt-Marie Was Here and I find it much better than Fredrik Backman's previous book before this one.

 

Britt-Marie Was Here focus on the title character herself. In the previous book (not a sequel, mind you), she was annoyingly weird (to me that is), a nagger and fussy like hell. But here we get to see and understand who Britt-Marie truly is. Her life, what she was before and who she is now is deeper than we think. After what happen to her in My Grandmother Asked Me... , she traveled to Borg, a fictional place that nobody knows of and literally, its like non-existence. As Britt-Marie gets a job in a recreational center, she encounters unexpected characters that will change her life or how she change theirs. Plus a conversation with a rat, soccer and lots of baking soda and Flaxin plus cutlery. Oh yes - this book and like all Fredrik Backman's books has that same formulated story and theme. In A Man Called Ove, we have those kind of unexpected characters and a cat. In My Grandmother Asked Me..., we have an apartment of unexpected characters too and a dog (even the car Renault is a character of its own). There's no difference here. I can see how his books are written now. But is Britt-Marie Was Here a one-trick pony? Well... yes and no.

 

You see, there's some thing I enjoy reading this book and its just what message Backman is trying to say here. Its a good one and there's some realism about how people are too comfort in their current lives and afraid to break free and do some thing for themselves when their whole lives are about doing some thing for others. When we try to assure ourselves that the right way is to go back what it was before, its what's happening now. The book does show us that scenario... but of course, I can't give out that ending but I can say, its one I believe that is good. And then of course, Britt-Marie always felt nobody thinks she exist that she makes herself known she does and in the end... well, I can't reveal that either. What I enjoy most is how now the chapters are short and direct, it is a much easier feeling of reading that I took my time no longer than I had with the last book.

 

I can't say that this book is great but its a read that gives me a subtle warmness towards it, that I like when it comes to slice of life. And this is one of those books that I would say its worth reading for those who are lost in a course of their lives should pick this up.

The Life and Death of Martha Washington

The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-first Century (Second Edition) - Dave Gibbons, Angus McKie, Frank Miller

The first time I read Give Me Liberty, it was in the late 1990s. I was working as a sales assistant in a comic specialty shop and the owner had actual copies of single issues of a very hard to find mini-series. It blew me away after I read it and I never thought how beautiful Martha Washington was, that strong female leads do make a difference then. It was then, I did not follow up any of its sequels... until the release of The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century was released, a complete chronicles of her life since birth until death.

 

Re-reading Give Me Liberty was so refreshing. If there is any thing about Martha Washington that she was born in 1995 in a ghetto so poor, that the US government housed these poor people into what was meant to be a social welfare but turns out to be a prison. From there, we get to know how smart she is with computers. Right up to the 21st century, the world that we know of is different. Its a different Earth and its a mess-up one. But do not get me wrong, I love how the creation of this universe is and with Martha Washington in it, you will understand what Give Me Liberty really means.

 

After the first series, the sequels came in (Martha Washington Goes To War, Happy Birthday Martha Washington, Martha Washington Stranded in Space, Martha Washington Saves The World & Martha Washington Dies) and what was a brilliant created universe from Frank Miller and beautifully drawn by Dave Gibbons, the same award-winning creators of DC's The Watchmen, every thing just felt spiraling down hill. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy some bits and pieces of it. I can see the evolution of change in the art from the earlier days of when Give Me Liberty was published in 1990. It was much later that I felt the consistency and the beauty of the art was gone. Same goes for the sequels that felt more like fillers. Until towards the end, was it a fitting ending? Well, to me it already felt what was kept as a universe that is messed-up truly stays true and that is more than enough to enjoy reading it.

 

Martha Washington is a strong female character that truly is a rarity at that time for female leads in the comic industry then. She was the Ellen Ripley of the Alien universe - strong, brave and justifiable. Besides Wonder Woman, Martha Washington was the only female comic book character that do stands out because of her beliefs and what was written the experience and journey she went through. As the rest of the characters, not many of them stayed long. I always wonder what happen to Raggyann and it was not explained. Still, I am glad I found a copy of this and able to read her whole journey. Thank you Frank Miller & Dave Gibbons for creating such a wonderful series. Without you guys, change will never happen and Martha Washington shows us that change and righting wrong is what hope is.

Badly Executed, But A Journey of Closure Worth Reading...

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry: A Novel - Fredrik Backman

If there is any thing about Fredrik Backman books that I want to talk about, its his characters he created. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is filled with colorful characters. Weirdos in their own way, witty to some. And for a time, they are memorable in a simple design. Sadly, I can't say much about the plot. While A Man Called Ove is formulated with a design that is predictable (you can read my previous review), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is quite a mess. There is a main plot written, but the chapters on each page is just every where. There are times I have no idea whether the intention of reading is to see how fast a reader can capture the idea between the real world and the imaginary world. Of course, I do understand the reason behind this writing because this is from the perspective of Elsa, the little protagonist of this book but then, there are times I got confuse as to where is Miapolis or Mitabulous and who is Sam, which I later found out int he chapters and the origin of some of the characters weren't clear to me. The weakness of this book is the execution, which I do find it hard to follow. Maybe that's one of the reasons why it took longer time to read it as my interest was no longer the need to follow up but eventually, I finished it today.

 

Of course, there are some good points. For one - the dialogue. As always, its well written. I did smile from time to time whenever Elsa makes a smart remark. Yes, she is rude but then as a character design, she has part of her grandmother's traits, her mum's compassion and of course, some of her dad's. I can say that this is well-thought of. Whenever she interacts with the characters, its the mind that matters most of what she thinks. That adds a little realism of children today (I know, I taught kids in school and some were rude without realizing they are rude but it was not intentional). Then of course, Fredrik Backman added some other elements like calling a vehicle Taxi or Renault as a name, which adds some thing special to it. I like how kids are given a freedom to think for themselves, maybe because every thing happens in Sweden? I do not know what's it like in Sweden but I believe, as its written, it is how it is. I do not judge it because of how rude she is, but how she does make a point.

 

As for the rest of the characters, its just as its meant to be. It's a journey of forgiveness and closure. I love how Britt-Marie as a character isn't as what it seems. The things that we say 'no matter how bad people they are, there are some good in them', which I do believe its true. Not many do thought of it this way but I have met some people or children that no matter how much bad they had shown, there are some good in them. What make's this journey in reading is how important it is to have closure, even though the execution of it was not done smoothly, for me that is. This suffer's the rating I have given to this book.

A Girl, A Man and A Love That Can't Be Touch...

Close Enough to Touch: A Novel - Colleen Oakley

A girl who has a rare allergy - people. A man who is trying to be a father. When two lost souls met in a library, you will expect some thing magical to happen. Here's what I like about this book and there is nothing magical that will happen - its real romance that puts two people in a situation that you just loved them because they are flawed but you can't help it because people like them do exist (apart from the allergy of human touch) and you just can't help it even more to believe it but its true in every single page that is written inside.


Close Enough To Touch is a romantic novel that is poignant and yet beautiful romance novel that is truly touching. When we fall in love, we want to touch and kiss the ones we love. Jubilee can't have any of that. Once, she was kissed by a boy in middle-grade school and it almost killed her. Life as we know it, she grew up without a hug or even holding her mother's hand. Because of that incident, she isolate herself from the world... until her mother passed away. When she met her old schoolmate along the way, she was offered a job to work in a community library. That's where she met Eric, a divorced father with an adopted son from his best friend and a daughter that doesn't want to speak to him at all as to how clueless he is on parenting, on Halloween. When they meet, Eric knew there is some thing about her he can't take his eyes off her. When Jubilee meets Eric, it took one quote from her favorite poet and every thing falls into place.


This is life - its complicated, its flawed and its not what we always want. Written with real world problems, what I love about it is how real this feels. The dialogue is natural and its well exchanged. The characters are memorable and more importantly its the execution. There isn't what I would call it a magical happy ending that ends like a fairy tale. This is real as it gets - the kind that reality sets in one people with indecisive actions, where characters just do not open up and allow their egos set in place until its too late. Where clueless dad's who has a chance to fix things, able to. I love this kind of hope and the ending is just enough to tell me, I don't need a fairy tale ending but I do need an ending that works and this works.


As the book is told in two different perspective of the main characters, its how the exchange of thoughts make its work. Men and women can never understand each other's thinking and to be able to read what they truly think evokes a lot of feelings how relationships can be so difficult to be embraced as one but many people in reality is one-sided in a relationship but this... this is workable. I love how Colleen Oakley has written them and the premise, its just a good way of telling a reader that writing is just a form not to getaway into our own introvert world but in a way, we can be part of a society to understand them why we function the way we are that is written in books. For that, this is truly a better book than her first (although I still love her first book).


If you haven't read any of her books, please pick up Close Enough To Touch first and then read Before I Go. Its light reading (for me anyway) and its a light reading that is worth picking up.

Where Practicality is Overrated, Hopeless Romantic Rejoice!

The Sun Is Also a Star - Nicola Yoon

I can be a hopeless romantic in the things I never thought I would believe in. At times, life can take me to some places I never expect to be, meet incredible and wonderful people through time and in the end, when I believe practicality is reality, it became overrated.

 

The Sun is Also a Star is by far truthful to that. I know, not everyone do experience that in their lives but I do believe in our choices, the universe plays a role. That one small decision can lead to big things. That significant sign will lead to an inevitable life-changing moment. And when we fall in love, it is instant without reason that only comes later. This book has it all. Reality and the inconceivable. Hope and lost. Science and dreams. I experience through all that... and this book writes it like its true.

 

Unlike Everything, Everything, this book is written in two main perspectives of two main characters and it all happened in a single day. I like how Nicola Yoon inserts other people's lives that gets affected by the main characters and a few small notable facts that she included makes it a grand read. Simple and yet beautiful, the flow of this story is more believable to me than Everything, Everything, which I had a harder time to accept. The romance is just what I felt a better execution and towards the end, it is what it is - that even hope may come true. The beauty of it is how one moment can connect the people we meet. I do believe this is true because it had happened to me before. And the debate of if we do believe that the universe plays an important role in our lives, for me I do feel its more truer because I always make small choices that changes every thing and if I do not make any choices at all, we will always be where we will be.

 

To read The Sun is Also a Star is to have an open heart and mind. Skeptics might get turn off by this book but I do feel this needs to be given a chance. Its a 4 & 1/2 out of 5 star rating for me. That missing 1/2 star would be added if not that I felt the exchange of dialogue between the two main characters weren't strong enough. I do recommend that this is a must read in one single sitting (I took too long and should have read it in a day or two but due to work, it takes longer than that).

 

An Honest Read About Dying Days...

The Language of Dying - Sarah Pinborough

I was caught on by the title - The Language of Dying and then, it was the reviews about the book, especially when I read a small printed line from Neil Gaiman that says 'A beautiful story, honestly told'. It was on the fantasy section and without any thoughts I pick it up. When I started reading, I knew this book can be read less than 1/2 a day but it took me a while to finish it (I was lazy lately, my excuse? Too much mobile games). Still, this is a book that is truly honest in words we will never spoke off but we know it is there. I only have just one problem - that convenient ending that was cut-off that I did not like and it was what a let down for me that cuts of my emotions when it was stirring during my read.

 

But what is The Language of Dying means? In the beginning of the first few pages, we will be reading each chapter like part-eulogy, part essay. The main character has no name to be identified, that has a sister and 3 brothers but we will be reading the main character's perspective. Their father is dying of cancer. Each day towards the last, the bonding of the family was once a crack, now broken and unable to fix come together to his dying days. A visit each day, is a visit of dread. There are no laughter or smiles, to each of their own emotionally jarred and trying to keep the spirits up but in truth, they know it is impossible to be bond as a family. I can relate to that really, that's how I felt how true Sarah Pinborough has written, one that we do not want to speak of but its true. I remember my days when my grandfather was holding on to his family members of my father and his siblings and to his last breath, the bond is broken. This is how true this book is written. I can relate to that. Its the damage that people go through that can't be fixed where our honesty is within us but never spoken of in reality. The pain written in those pages is just is... until the ending part. While I do understand what the author is trying to say, but it just did not fixed it well for me. I just can't see that last part, those three pages, work well. That's how it got out knock the last star, otherwise it would have been a four instead of three and a 1/2.

 

It is still a good book, the end of days of someone you used to love or some part of and its the story of how we say our own eulogies in our own hearts, which spoke true here. But how it is part of a fantasy read is beyond me or maybe the bookstore as placed it at the wrong section (but I did picked it up from that section). Readable yes, because the words are nicely written and able to relate and if you like some thing that is truly meant to be said with no pretense, sympathy is the one word you can feel towards the main character of how realities bore her down and this is who she is today, which in reality is true. I would recommend to anyone whom able to consume a little sadness with pinch of depression but its a beautiful sad book that I can say if you brushed aside the ending, you might enjoy reading this book.

A Lovely Debut Poem Collection Worth Reading

Our Numbered Days - Neil Hilborn

I knew I had to talk to her.

I asked her out six times.

In thirty seconds. She said yes

after the third one, but none of them

felt right so I had to keep going.

 

Here is a debut collection from Neil Hilborn's Our Numbered Days, a raw perspective of what we thought and knew about love, is rarely that simple. It's a funny and sad, crazy but make sense and what we love is likely a poor choice without us knowing it. His famous OCD is included along with JoeyHere and AwayFuture Tense. There is so much to love about this debut collection, and if you have heard about Neil Hilborn from his poetry slam performances or from Button Poetry or if you haven't heard about him at all, pick this up.

 

p/s: It's a rarity that I can smile while reading this poem and that means its good.

A Worthy Sequel No Better Than The First

A Gathering of Shadows - Victoria Schwab

The sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic is more than just any sequel - its a worthy almost an epic fantasy that lives up to its name when it comes to magic. Where the first begins introducing a world of interesting deep characters, an unspoken evil and politics of tilting the balance of power in the first book, the sequel truly dug deeper into new characters, a depth of understanding of Red London, we get to know more about Kell, Lila and Rhy and the rest of the characters and building up a suspense that ends with a cliffhanger that is exciting, rich and the wanting to know more! Is it better than the first? I can say its well-balance in how the story is laid out brilliantly that never seize to amaze me.

 

Four months after the Black Night incident, Red London is preparing for a magic tournament. The last time we see Delilah Bard she joined a crew of sea privateers lead by the handsome and irresistible Captain Alucard Emery, sailing across the ocean for the empire. Still, a thief as always but with a new skill of magic. In Red London, Rhy is preparing for Essen Tasch, a tournament where magicians from corners of the Arnesian empire come to compete. Kell, last seen where he had bond his life with Rhy after he brought Black Night towards the Arnes Empire and even though he and Lila had saved the empire, the king and queen of Red London do not trust Rhy's life to be protected by Kell. In White London, some thing dark is stirring and a new king took over, one with a familiar face and an ancient enemy is about to spread its influences across the parallel worlds of London.

 

There is so much about A Gathering of Shadows but what I can say is its the same as much I would say about A Darker Shade of Magic - it still never fails me how captivating this book is as much as it was in the first book. Victoria Schwab is to this day my favorite author and she had created a world that really pulls a reader in and live the lives of each of the character, with absorbing dialogue and a read that truly keeps you going. I do find that although the sequel isn't as fast as the first book itself, it still has this holding on me that I do not want this to end even though it has to end one way or another. Its still a brilliant written work and one I love most that my reading in the early mornings is what I look forward to to keep me enthrall and mesmerized.

A Reading Journey on Nudism Through An Author's Experience

Naked at Lunch: The Adventures of a Reluctant Nudist - Mark Haskell Smith

When it comes to reading non-fiction, I am not a fan. So why did I pick up this book? One word - curiosity. I am glad that I allow my curiosity win over my standard reading and although it took three months to complete it (I know, how is it even possible that a book with almost 300 pages of content not counting the the acknowledgement and bibliography took that long to complete it, right?), I admit I am such a bad person that I read other books first instead of finishing what I started. Still, even though it took such a long time to complete it... am I glad that I did in a good way.

 

Naked at Lunch: The Adventures of a Reluctant Nudist is a book out of my curiosity of a culture I do not fully understand. From the moment I turn to the first page I thought I know what am I getting myself into. Chapter one was exactly as I thought it would but as I progress, I realize my understanding of a community that loves nature not only answer some questions but also create new ones for me why people do what they love to do - where people are happier to be a non-sexual naturist by exposing themselves natural without any sexual urges. Mark Haskell Smith, who went through this journey into understanding the culture that was created (surprisingly) many years ago did a well thorough study of the community and how many people enjoy being naked in the open. From taking a trip to resorts populated with older naturist to hiking nude in the wild and taking a cruise trip naked and enjoying a tour being expose is a real experience in understanding that there are people who do what they do that they love most. For many reasons to each of their known, it is clear the culture is very popular to this day but mainly because of their own reasons of doing it (and most of them began their journey through skinny-dipping). The topics not just covered of the experience of Mark but also what he has uncovered the laws and movement of the community, published written materials about naturist today and even the respect and dignity people give in the community. There is nothing shocking about it, its just a reading realization where its information is truly interesting to many parts that do offer places for naturist and the events and activities people partake. Imagine a naturist library where reading in nude is nothing shocking, and what we wear our clothes on our body is just more of a taboo than being naked (and this is coming from an Asian reader who lives among the taboo traditional of being naked in the open).

 

What I gathered from reading is truly an interesting read and it is rare that I had a great time reading and laughing out loud from a non-fiction book even though there are some parts that are pretty much vulgar but it is hilarious to see the author, who is more reluctant going nude at the beginning going through awkward moments that truly make this book a memorable read. I can say in short without revealing more that this book is for the open-minded readers and for the curious to understand the culture itself. Believe me, what we thought we know may not be what it seems and mostly people get the wrong idea about nudist but after reading this, the understanding of being a naturist is more respectable than it is for those that are the ignorant. I would recommend this to any readers who would dare take a risk in reading without any fear of going nude.

 

Gripping Epic Fantasy That Begins Here!

A Darker Shade of Magic - Victoria Schwab

Magic. Parallel universe. Treachery. An adventure. Saving all worlds.

 

This is my third series fromV.E. Schwab. Each time I read her books, each time it never fails to amaze me how good her writing is. She pulled me in, took me into an adventure so unique and leave me wanting for more. A Darker Shade of Magic is the first in the trilogy series Shades of Magic. I have hold on to reading the first book since I bought it last year and finally, when the third and final book A Conjuring of Light was released recently, I will be binge reading the series in my own time and I have to say that A Darker Shade of Magic had really pull me into a world of fantasy that I love to be spin into with so much as to I wanted to read further but resist holding on to devour each word for word.

 

To begin, the blurb has an interesting twist - three parallel Londons and one, shall not be spoken of. Kell, one of the last two Antaris magician traveler of parallel Londons as messengers among royals and a smuggler of antiques and relics. Lila, a thief in Grey London and a survivor on the streets unknown of other existence of London. When Kell was given a forbidden relic from a place not speak of and when he cross paths with Lila who pickpocket that forbidden relic, fate have them work together to save the universe from taken over by greed of power.

 

V.E. Schwab once again, have outdone herself. Introducing worlds unlike any other, a fantasy that is worthy a read and rereading again and again. I love the adventure it was written, the interesting characters being introduce and the malice of evil characters intended towards the protagonist. If this is reality, its a darn good writing. I was sucked into this world she created and made me believe that these parallel Londons exist. And then, there is magic that weren't that far fetched and acceptable. What truly made this book a must read is how the lure of reading more is magic itself in reading. Its one I felt worth pursuing and definitely looking forward in the next book - A Gathering of Shadows where I am about to read soon.

When A Man Called Ove Isn't What You Thought It Would Be

A Man Called Ove: A Novel - Fredrik Backman

When I first heard about A Man Called Ove (pronounce as 'O-vi'), it was because of word-of-mouth. Praises keeps pouring in, good reviews keeps filling up and of course, it was inevitable that I came across the book and my curiosity get the best of me. After a year of purchase, I finally sat down and read it. It has been a while since I read some thing good in some months and while many readers have read it way earlier than I do, I am glad I took my time to read it.

 

A Man Called Ove is a story of a man called Ove (I just like saying it). At first glance, he appears to be one of the grumpiest middle-age man that is so bitter about every thing, you just want to avoid him. He cusses, he's rude and he's the type that does not care about people. He has a set of principles, he follow regulations and rules that he obeyed. He hates white collar men. He despise cats. And more importantly, he doesn't want to be disturb. When a new neighbor moves in next door to his house and accidentally drives up their trailer and destroy Ove's mailbox, it begins a journey of acceptance and unlikely friendships in unexpected ways. Typical formulated story you might say, right? For plot lines, yes. For execution and development of the story, its better than I expected.

 

What I enjoy most are the characters - to each of their own it was outline nicely. There is consistency to each of them including Ove and I love each and every one of them. Characters written well is once again, a rarity and given a nice explained background to each is a good way to show how Fredrik Backman care about his characters. And then of course, what was true is Ove is not what it seems, and I like how there are layers that some times, it may not be what it seems on first impression that tells us we need to reassessment people in depth. There is so much love and charm in the characters that you just have to love them a lot, especially Ove. I like how the flow of each chapter is given care and the history behind them. For Ove, I truly understand a person like him that many people miss out in reality and this is written with truth.

 

The execution and delivery is an enjoyable one but some how, its formulated. While the characters aren't stereotypical type, the flow of the story is like one I had seen before. Would it be better if its not followed like a guideline of any books about how to write a story I can say no, but this is as good as it gets because even though its formulated, its meant to be written that way. While the depth of the story isn't deep, I enjoy the slice of life theme in it. There is positive and inspiring values very much in real life happening and not those kind of positive quotes we tend to read a lot to try to inspire us. Its just that with reality of what is happening, it keeps it real in characters and what will happen to us if thrown into a situation and A Man Called Ove is just it.

 

I can't say its the best ever book I have ever read but its near. I was warm all over when I read towards the end and it was the kind of ending I expected. I did enjoy the dialogue exchange between Ove and the characters he came across. I can say that it is a recommended read if you have not come across this book. Its a must for any book readers or lovers that for once in life, you should read it.