Another Quick Weekend Back Home

We’re flying home (again!) this weekend! We’ll be attending a wedding, for a friend of Kyle’s. And, frankly, I’m more excited about the chance of seeing my family and our dogs. Although I guess it would be nice to be at a wedding where I’m not a part of the entourage, for once.

Anyway, I’m super excited to see the silly dogs. And my mom’s face too, I guess, when she sees me. Because I haven’t told her I’ll be home this weekend.

Something to look forward to!

July Wrap-up

I read 4 books in July. Not a lot, I admit. But out of the 4, 3 were pretty good. So I’d say that’s a pretty good reading month. And I’m out of my reading slump! Yay!

1

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
I think this book ought to be read with a little more background on David Mitchell’s other works. There were a lot of things mentioned that might have been understood with someone who was more familiar with the author. I was intrigued with his fantasy world though. But the story felt a bit disjointed for me to follow. I felt like I was in a party and knew only a handful of people through common friends. I wanted to understand the vibe, but somehow felt disconnected with it all. Maybe someday I’ll try to read one of this author’s earlier books.

2

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
I liked the concept. About there being different kinds of magic based on different elements. Paper, glass, metal … My favorite character is probably Magician Emery Thane. He’s one of those mysterious brooding type of people, which doesn’t often work for me. But this was probably the only reason I kept reading till the end. The main character, Ceony Twill, was very irritating. And the insta-love thing. It came out of nowhere and just somehow became the main focus of the story. I thought it could have been about something else, something bigger, something more about magic and good and evil? Oh well.

3

The Miniaturist by Jessie Barton
This is such an intriguing book! I read it in a couple of days. The events were slow, but never boring. And somehow that just kept me turning the pages. There’s this feeling you get of wanting to just know. The ending was probably inevitable, but it still surprised me. And I had to re-read the prologue because … then you’ll understand.

4

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
This the first book I have read from this author. And ohmygod, which rock have I been living under? Why have I only heard about her just now? Apparently, she has other books, which I promptly devoured. And which I will probably write a review later. A Darker Shade of Magic is about 4 worlds, one is magical, one is not, one is hungry for magic and one is just gone. I love the world building. And I love that there is no love story. There is probably a hint of one, but not in this book anyway. I hear there’s a sequel.

Off My Reading Slump and Into the Unknown!

JUNE READS:

Together with my reading slump, I had a writing slump as well! It must be because I’ve read such terrible books in the last couple of months. Most of these are actually random picks from random library visits.

1

Dying for Mercy by Mary Jane Clark
Frankly, I can’t remember what this book was all about. It was a fast read, that’s all I can think of. I’m not likely to picking up anything from this author in the future.

2

Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clarke
Another “meh” book. I had initially thought these first two books were by the same author.

3

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
Okay. So I didn’t finish this one. It dragged on and on and there was this back and forth between the past and the present which I understood must all be connected. The first few pages, I must admit, piqued my interest. An archeological dig, a mysterious item, blah blah blah… but it all went downhill after a the first chapter. I wish I could say more, but I read this a couple of months ago. And I don’t remember much other than how disinterested I was reading this!

4

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Hmm… Tricky one. I hate hate hate insta-lovey stuff in books! I can’t remember any book off the top of my head right now that I liked that featured an insta-love relationship between the main characters. But….BUT… I don’t know. I think I did like some parts of it. Their world is … interesting. My favorite character was Alina’s sort of lady-in-waiting. She was smart and funny. The next book will probably be borrowed from the library, though.

5

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Ah! THIS is most likely the book that got me out of my reading slump! I finished this one on the day Obama declared his gay marriage ruling. Awesome. I had no idea honestly what this book was about when I bought it. I read a few pages on Amazon’s preview, liked the writing, and decided to buy it! I loved the plot, the characters, the writing, the pacing, and how the author dealt with several issues at once. Bullying, discrimination and sexual preference.

The Hazards of Working in Interior Design

imageSo I foolishly cut myself with a piece of stainless steel yesterday. In the palm of my right hand, no less! Tsk. Good thing no stitches were needed when I went to the doctor. He did give me a tetanus shot, which hurts like a bruise. I don’t particularly dislike injections or clinics or doctors, but I’d really rather not be in a situation where I am at their mercy.

I wish I’d taken a leave of absence today. I can’t do anything productive with my right hand currently as it is. And it hurts when I do simple things like writing or using the mouse. Ugh.

This is such a stupid injury. Worthy of a facepalm and shake in the head.

Oh well.

May Reads

I attempted to read a total of 11 books last month! But ended up finishing only 8. Why? I realized I had already read the other 2 books a looooong time ago! And the last book, I regret to say I abandoned reading. These were:

Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories by Roald Dahl.
I only remembered this book a couple of stories into it. It’s a weird and creepy selection of Mr. Dahl’s short stories. Some of the stories actually leave you hanging, which gives it a more twisted feeling. It is ironic that this is all from the same mind who wrote such delightful children’s books as Mathilda and James and the Giant Peach.

Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie
Honestly, I can’t remember the whole story, but I’ve always loved Agatha Christie’s work. My favorites were always the ones where Miss Marple is the main character. It never fails to tickle me how a li’l ol’ lady can outsmart even police detectives!

A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories by Ray Bradbury. 
There have been numerous rave reviews for this author’s other book Fahrenheit 451. Having recently read The Martian by Andy Weir, I was looking for similar novels to complement my sci-fi reading phase. For which reason I decided to pick up his other book when I saw it in the library. Frankly, I was slightly disappointed by the writing style. It felt a little bit cold and disconected to me. I tried reading a few more stories, but just couldn’t get into it.

Baskerville Legacy: A Confession by John O’Connel.
The summary intrigued me a little bit. So I decided to give it a try. The overall plot was okay, at best. It ended on not a very pleasant note for Arthur Conan Doyle. I don’t know if I liked it. The writing was okay. Nothing notable, in my opinion. I guess I can rate it as a “meh!” kind of book.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore.
The premise is interesting. The ending was a little surprising. I didn’t see that at all! Overall, I don’t know if I will be picking up another book by Kristin Cashore.

Marked: A Mindspace Investigations Novel by Alex Hughes.
This is probably the 2nd or 3rd of the Mindspace books that I have read. I don’t know why I keep reading. I am always so irritated with so many things about this series. First of all, the main character. Why is he always always always on the brink of losing his job? The drug thing, I know. But …pfft! Give the guy a break. He’s trying! Then there’s the love interest. She is a total bitch. And her issues aren’t anything new at all. I didn’t want the, to get together at all! And mindspace. It’s still being described in the vaguest terms. This is supposed to be the main thing in the novel. Why isnt’t this explained with more depth, in a way where the reader can understand it?

Having said all that, I don’t know why I am still drawn to this series. If I see the next book in the library, there’s a big chance I would still pick it up!

Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley.
Ah. Another retelling. Frankenstein’s monster befriends a pickpocket. It was … Interesting. At times a little bit wandering in a way where the author almost didn’t know where he wanted the story to go. I was unsatisfied with the ending and felt that it could have been better, or done in some other way. But overall, I guess it wasn’t so bad. Nothing amazing about it. Another “meh!” rating for me.

Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.
Ahh! I loved the writing. Almost couldn’t put it down. If I wasn’t on vacation reading this, I would probably had read it in a couple of days. I liked the narration a lot. The characters, probably not as much. My favorite character was only present for about the first third of he book. I liked the idea of the mermaid girl though. I don’t know why. Probably a reflection of my long frustration in learning how to swim! Haha! I might read this again in the future. And I am very interested to read other books by this author.

Insert Alliterated Title Here

Labor Day. Random thoughts and things I did.

Decided to spend the day at home. The housemates are all out. Some are out shopping or hanging out with other friends. Kyle and the rest went to see a basketball game. I did a little bit of work for this small project. Some lying down. And a lot of reading.

I’m almost done with Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, The Signature of All Things. I don’t really know what to make of the story yet but the words, I think, are such beautiful prose! I don’t think I want this book to end! And so, about 30 pages before it ends, I stopped reading.

On to other things: Last night, I baked a cake. A delicious moist chocolate cake. This little bit of success makes me happy.

Now, I think I’ll lie down again and daydream.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: A Biased Review

cinder-marissa-meyer

I had such high hopes for this book. I read it in a few days because it’s quite a fast read, which I liked. So let me just begin with what i did like about this first novel from the Lunar Chronicles.

Firstly, it’s a re-telling of a classic fairy tale, Cinderella. I love re-tellings. And this one just had all the right elements to make it awesome. A cyborg Cinderella? How could I not be interested? I am a huge fan of Once Upon a Time , the TV series, and Wicked the musical. I understand these are all different kinds of mediums in story-telling, but if you can take an old overused concept, put a twist in it and make it interesting, I’m all for that!

Secondly, it’s supposed to be a dystopian / sci-fi / fantasy story. These kinds of stories are somehow my latest craze these days. Anything from Isaac Asimov to Suzanne Collins to Jim Butcher. I’m interested in new worlds and weirdness and magic and sci-fi, and this book seemed to have it all.

Another thing that I found kind of cool is that the story is set in New Beijing. There aren’t a lot of these kinds of books to be set in this part of the world. So I was very interested in seeing how they would incorporate the Cinderella angle into an Asian atmosphere.

Having said that, I think that was about everything I could like about the book. What bothered me about it …. were a lot of things:

The setting. New Beijing. Except for the name of the city itself, the names of some characters, and a reference to dumplings, there’s nothing new or Beijing-ish about it at all. What happened to the original settlers of Beijing? Did they just allow the westerners to take over their country like that? China is a huge country with a huge population today. Imagine how many people there would be in the future Meyer imagines. It’s hardly believable that majority of the people living here would to be migrants.

Or maybe that’s just how I imagined it. Or the author just didn’t do the world-building very well. I don’t know.

The foot. Something just didn’t feel right about how Meyer tried to fit the Cinderella slipper into the story. She made into a cyborg foot. Hmm… Nope. I don’t buy it.

The characters. Cinder was NOT relatable at all. I couldn’t sympathize with her. I didn’t root for her. I wasn’t impressed with her decision-making. She just didn’t work as a main character. She kind of just went with everything that was happening to her. Sure, she put up a fight when they wanted to take her as a “volunteer” but that’s all. After that, she just planned to escape and leave everything behind. Way to go, heroine.

What made it bearable was actually her little sidekick, who was kind of cute and funny. And, of course, Meyer decides to kill her off, if only temporarily.

I did like the doctor. His character was straightforward.

The love story. This part of the story just made me cringe. Their connection was not believable. I didn’t want them to get together. There was no basis to their attraction, except a very superficial one. And this is supposed to be a love story. If I can’t get into the love part of it, what’s the point?

The politics. Somehow, it all felt very simplistic and backwards. Evil alien wants to take over the Earth by marrying the prince. I mean, there are still monarchies in the future?

I like the premise of this book. There are some very interesting and new ideas that I wish had been written better. Some of the things just didn’t click for me, though. The evil stepmother was just … evil. And racist. I like my antagonists to be bad but at least understandable or with a little more depth maybe? Moriarty, Lex Luthor, Loki, President Snow… Someone you’re gonna like hating.

Overall, this was a very unsatisfying read. I don’t really know if I will ever decide to pick up the next book in the series. I’m curious enough, I guess, but what with my disappointment in Cinder, I’m just not sure.

Another Japan Trip … Woooh!

I’m taking a break from planning our family trip to Japan. Normally, I try not to do a specific itinerary when we’re going somewhere. But a little guidance on our days there would be useful, and my parents want to know how much is the budget we’re looking at.I’m pretty excited about it, but mapping out the logistics is making me dread the laptop every time I have to sit down in front of it. So! While taking a break, I wanted to write down things I’ve learned so far:

1. Japan is a BIG place. I had no idea there were so many places to visit! And with so little time to do it. I’m allotting a few days per city so we could explore a little, but I’m finding it really difficult to narrow down what to do and see.

2. Their transport system is crazy! WHY are there 3 separate companies who own the train lines? I’m so confused about how to get tickets from one place to another. Apparently, you have to get different tickets every time, OR you get one train card that is acceptable for a couple of train lines but not all. I don’t know. Also, the bullet trains are confusing. But I hear you can just buy the ticket at the station, so I’ll tackle that problem when we’re there.

3. I know it’s pretty common knowledge, but Japan is an expensive city! And we’ll be 5 in the family travelling together. Everything is just going to add up. Yikes.

Back to planning mode!