Leaving

I was finally up
and running again
not turning
back down
that dead end road
to happiness
so desperately I try I really
really try yet
it is too easy for the winds to change
everytime I think I have found my footing
slips and staggering in doubts why
can’t you all just let me be
can’t I be just a little bit selfish this time
this is why I am running away
I’m sorry
I don’t want to stay

Book Reviews: January Wrap-Up!

Currently reading: I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

I Crawl Through It

My encounters with magical realism have been rather limited. I can only recall The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, and Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King. That being said, whilst these were memorable reads, they were bizarre as much as they were intriguing. I Crawl Through It is so far, the most extreme on the magical realism scale, so much so that it has been dubbed as surrealist fiction. More on this in my next wrap-up!

As always, the publishing details and page count are based on the edition I read.

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Ministry of Moral Panic| Amanda Lee Koe | Epigram Books/ 2013 | 216 pages

Image result for moral panic green cover

I actually read this in December, but forgot to include it in my last wrap-up.

This was stunningly brilliant. A Singaporean novel through and through, resonating on a startling level. And by Singaporean, I don’t mean in a heavy-handed manner, such as through contrive dialect in dialogue or cultural idiosyncrasies usually delivered distastefully (often cringe-worthy too; a tell-tale sign of a green writer). Rather, Lee poignantly presents the mindset that the typical Singaporean grows up with, and the struggles that come with breaking free from it are so on point.

The characters are so cleverly and distinctly written, each carrying strong voices that demand to be heard, and are heard, through each short story. It’s amazing how much we can glean from each one of them in the short number of pages they’re given. This is one of those books when you can tell the writer knows what she wants to say, and has expressed it artistically, full of sensitivity and undisguised raw emotion. Some stories hit so close to home that they call for a reread. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to try out Singapore Literature but isn’t sure where to start.

Also, I really need to read more local books. Never did I expect to enjoy this so much.

Rating: 4 parks

 

The Joy Luck Club| Amy Tan | Mass Market Paperback / 1989 | 332 pages

The Joy Luck Club

An impressionable, moving read that brings to mind what my former literature teacher once said, “All of you are bananas. Yellow on the outside, white inside.” It is upsetting to read of one being ashamed of their own cultural heritage. This novel reminded me just how little I know of my rich culture and spurs a desire to be more in touch with my family history and roots.

An honest, bittersweet and beautiful book about immigrants, familial relationships, history and identity. Some traditional ways of thinking ring through even today; the relevance is surprising and the heart-gripping mother-daughter relationships make me glad to have picked up this gem. While I get that the han yu pin ying might have been misspelled to favour vocalisation, some are so far off the mark that they didn’t register as my Mother Tongue… Or at least, how I learnt it, that isn’t how they are pronounced.

Rating: 4 Mahjong tiles

 

I’ve Got Your Number | Sophie Kinsella | Bantam Press / 2012 | 387 pages

I've Got Your Number

Finally! My first Sophie Kinsella book! I’ve been wanting to check out her books for quite some time now, having heard so much about them. I came across this title from the sampler I read on my Kindle and the beginning was SO FUNNY, that even after months, I remembered it and searched high and low for it at the library!

MAN WAS THIS A HILARIOUS READ I BREEZED THROUGH. I can totally picture this as a rom-com movie! Although somewhat predictable, the consistent characters were engaging to the end. The only qualms I had were the realism of the plot (for a contemporary novel, that ending seemed too “only happens in movie”-esque), and how the suspect reveal was handled (I mean, for those of you who have read it – that conversation during the confrontation – LIKE, REALLY?).

Also, technology, y’all. This book shows you just how dangerous it is when it comes to your personal privacy and (over)reliance on technology. To think this was published a few years back – what more now, with all the rapid advancements? We basically hold mini laptops in our hands and interact with it everyday.

But yeah, definitely picking up another Kinsella novel when I’m in the mood for a light-hearted read that will make me laugh.

Rating: 3 lost cellphones

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I’m trying out this new section in my reviews where I list a memorable quote (that I liked) from each book. Readers who have read the books might better understand why I chose them (because context).

“If it’s in the bin, it’s public property.”  

Basically. One of the take-aways from I’ve Got Your Number :p

From Ministry of Moral Panic: “Small people need to talk more loudly to be heard. Well I’m small aren’t I, I’m not even 1.6 metres tall, but you don’t see me raising my voice. Maybe you’re okay with not being heard. I just want to be heard by the right people. The right person.”

She’s got it right. And I’m petite too!

From The Joy Luck Club: “Isn’t hate merely the result of wounded love?”

This reminds me of what my Geography teacher once said offhandedly: that to hate, there must first have been love.

I hope you’ve had a fantastic reading month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Reviews: Year End Wrap-Up!

How has your reading year been?  2016 has been a year of firsts for me – in terms of books, I’m really glad I tried genres I don’t usually pick up! Picture books, graphic novels, historical fiction, books on books and writing!!

It’s been awhile since my last wrap up, but when you intern at a publishing house, and go from reading on average, 4 books a month to 4 manuscripts a week… you don’t really want to pick up a book after work, ya feel me?

SO these were my reads from… uhhh… the last wrap up month to December!

 

DOROTHY MUST DIE

Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die, #1)

Danielle Paige | Published April 1st 2014 | HarperCollins | 452 pages | my rating: 2 tornadoes

I haven’t read very many retellings… unfortunately for me, this one did not live up to its hype. Good world-building, very visual, but there were moments for further emotional growth and character exploration which were left untouched (WHAT A WASTE), and whatever was done was too fleeting. Basically, I felt shortchanged.

The romance was unconvincing. Why must it be, that every YA partner in crime ever (okay fine, THE MAJORITY) / the two leads of the story must eventually fall in love? Why can’t they just develop a solid, beautiful friendship, and overcome whatever obstacles together, as FRIENDS??

And while the story was understandably plot driven, it came off as predictable. Honestly, only the last few chapters grabbed my interest, but by then, it wasn’t enough for me to pick up the sequel.

I think a huge factor of my lack of investment in this novel was the writing style. There were excessive sentences to reiterate the protagonist’s next course of action that were unnecessary, because it was already obvious to the reader. Dorothy seems too one dimensional a villain for me, but maybe there’s more than what we’ve been shown so far, but I doubt I’ll be sticking around to find out.

 

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES 

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

Sarah J. Maas | Published May 5th 2015 | Bloomsbury | 416 pages | 3 faeries

I really wanted to love this, but like Throne of Glass, I didn’t. WHICH REALLY SUCKS BECAUSE SHE SIGNED IT IN PERSON!! (warning: what follows may be more a rant)

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The author’s descriptive writing is solid. In particular, I felt that the action sequences were very well drawn out and memorable. To me, this is where Sarah J. Maas stands out in this genre of writing.

Unfortunately, similarly to TOG, the main qualm I had was with the characters and relationship dynamics. The relationships in ACOTAR – some were just so twisted and too lust driven (?) and honestly, the developing “attraction” between our heroine and Rhysand was not believable, though I wouldn’t go as far to suggest slight Stockholm syndrome. However, it does seem like he would be the second male lead/ potential love interest contender in the sequel (at least that was the direction the novel seemed to suggest their relationship was heading in).

Also, even if the rationale behind Rhys’ actions seemed rather “bad boy template” thus far, his extremity with our hostage/slave/prisoner protagonist was not justifiable and honestly, an uncomfortable read.

And the queen antagonist – I mean, are all rich and powerful evil people also lame?? The whole ” I COULD KILL YOU RIGHT NOW BUT FIRST pass these tests!! it’s fun to play with you weak humans!! much entertainment for the court!!” really undermines or prevents the reader from taking her seriously/ as a worthy opponent.

Some plot points were clichéd, if not predictable, including the riddle (come on, it wasn’t THAT hard to guess… right?) and the trials (though I must admit, the second half is when the novel really picked up. The worm bit reminded me of the infernal devices hahaha).

I didn’t find myself caring for Tamlin very much (in fact, Lucien is more endearing – or are most, if not all sidekicks endearing?) but did think Nesta was an interesting side character as the story progressed. Another strength of Ms Maas : her secondary characters can be quite colourful and impressionable. Hopefully we’ll see more of her sisters in the next book (though I don’t think I’ll be picking up the sequel anytime soon / may not continue the series like TOG)?

ELEANOR & PARK

Eleanor & Park

Rainbow Rowell | Published February 26th 2013| St. Martin’s Press | 328 pages | 3 mix tapes

AArRrrRGHHh  I love Rainbow’s books so much (I’ve read Attachments & Fangirl before this one) so the fact that I can’t squeal and gush about this is really quite disappointing ):
I did appreciate how Eleanor’s family story unfolded and there were some cute scenes but the basis of this story leaves so much untapped potential?? From the stereotypical portrayals, necessary suspension of disbelief (or is cultural disparity accountable for me being not quite sold on how liberal adults handle runaway crises?) to the sidelining of secondary characters… there were a handful of scenes which could have made this a more enjoyable read for me.
Perhaps it was the point of view in which their story was written, or maybe I’m just less inclined to agree with YA characters nowadays? The latter is something I’ve noticed in my reading recently, which had me thinking a lot about “outgrowing YA” and the related videos on booktube.

A rough breakdown of my thoughts whilst reading this:

  • Aaawww Paaaarrrk
  • What the shit is Ritchie’s problem (IS THAT EVEN HIS/ ELEANOR’S STEP DAD’S NAME I READ THIS SO LONG AGO)
  • Her mum needs to get her senses together why can’t she see how toxic this relationship is??
  • Eleanor, you are not helping yourself
  • Why are you kids so immature tho

 

LANDLINE

Landline

Rainbow Rowell | Published July 7th 2015 | St. Martin’s Griffin | 320 pages | 4 time travelling phones

Yep, it’s Rowell. Landline reminded me just why I enjoy her writing, and why she remains one of the queens of contemporary novels.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this wasn’t YA, or it’s really just the characters in this one that kept me turning the page. So colourful and well thought out and true to themselves and so real.

The relationships were just so great and intricate; it’s clear Rowell knew these characters like the back of her hand. So much heart, family and humour in this one. And the dialogue – nobody does it like Rowell. Fantastic Christmas read!
I wish I could add another book (THE JOY LUCK CLUB by AMY TAN ) to this wrap-up, but I couldn’t finish it in time! Started this post in the last 2 hours of 2016 aaaandd it’s now past 1am (fireworks are beautiful distractions) so HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT YEAR AHEAD AND AN EVEN BETTER READING YEAR!!!

Blessed Assurance

Such warmth.

From new faces with homemade food,
opening up their circle to me,
opened me to my own skin,

saying yes,
coming in.

Such comfort.

In becoming acquainted again with the sound of my own laughter,
feeling a million times lighter,

truly,
fully.

Such surprise.

Not wanting to “feel like my old self again”,
finally,
the first in a long time in a social setting,
not feeling ashamed and actually looking forward,
for good.

Indeed, where He guides, He provides.

“It was wonderful meeting you. I’m glad you were able to make it.”
Me too.

Removed

image

Left –
it’s been too long,
you are the same but not
how I remembered
yet we pick up where we left
off.

Right
am I still the me you love(d)?
your hug affirms yet your silence disagreed…
was I more quiet than usual, observing,
distancing…but why?
we trust enough to show all our sides and yet I felt different this time;
reserved,
pulled back slightly but I love you,
just like always,
still, even
now.

Up
I see how you climb to where you were always meant to be, even in new waters,
you are always ahead,
navigation pat down,
head up,
don’t forget to remember me (please)
when you are where you want to be,
I will be here,
beside.

Down
we were always on the same wavelength,
no judgements passed, honest for good,
supportive to the end; we didn’t need anyone else…
but I felt it; did you? Too?
I’ve fallen behind; did you turn back?
Wherever we’re headed, we always make it a point to come back.

So why did I feel off-center?

In you, I saw you :
bigger, brighter, better.
So badly I want to know if in me,
did you still see me?
Because I couldn’t find me, in us.

That question

image

So why?

Funny how it became the question I hate most…

But who are you to ask me that dammit
curiosity doesn’t warrant leeway;
stupid pragmatism’s thrown me off the freeway,
headfirst onto reality’s path
heartlast still hung up with the past

even in the settled dust –
too pronounced are the shreds of my obstinacy to be concealed gosh
how is it that I am so transparent when you do not know me at all?

New people. Same questions. Old answers.

my mouth denies my thoughts,
my bandages are made from salt;
all for the gossamer of my amour propre – oh why

Redemption

image

Today?
Ticked  checklist – feel accomplished
(yet)? –
Pray fervently for Grace,
trace the outlines of my face…
still.here.

blood sweat tears
nothing but sweetened tales?
pennies in the rain count for naught
No! I
cover my eyes, mouth, ears;
nothing but a pathetic
mosaic facsimile
crafted through cowardice poorly
disguised as caution

Tear down this let down.
“What’s wrong?” isn’t easy to answer.
Just. Pretend

those fears are out of reach now

Is this enough?