The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

10766509Title: The Best of Me

Author: Nicholas Sparks

Genre: Romance, Women’s Lit, Contemporary

Published by/on: Grand Central Publishing/ 2011

Length (HC): 292 pages

Synopsis: 

THE BEST OF ME is the heart-rending story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they’ve taken wildly divergent paths, but neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever altered their world. When they are both called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter, they will be forced to confront the choices each has made, and ask whether love can truly rewrite the past.

Rate: 3.5 of 5

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You might not understand, but I gave you the best of me, and after you left, nothing was ever the same.

I didn’t anticipate the lengthy amount of time that I would be reading this! It took me five weeks, five weeks, people! This is the second book I’ve read by Nicholas Sparks, and though I love most of the plot of his books (those that I’ve read and watched, I mean), this one in particular leaves me this particular sense that I’m missing something–as if there was a part in the book that I skipped; I’m not particularly sure if that’s the intent of the author. I just am not so fond of the ending of The Best of Me, perhaps.

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Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

256003Title: Life on the Refrigerator Door

Author: Alice Kuipers

Series: None

Genre: Women’s Literature, Fiction, Contemporary

Number of Pages (Hardcover): 220

Date Published: August 28th of 2007

Publisher: Harper

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Claire and her mother are running out of time, but they don’t know it. Not yet. Claire is wrapped up with the difficulties of her bourgeoning adulthood—boys, school, friends, identity; Claire’s mother, a single mom, is rushed off her feet both at work and at home. They rarely find themselves in the same room at the same time, and it often seems that the only thing they can count on are notes to each other on the refrigerator door. When home is threatened by a crisis, their relationship experiences a momentous change. Forced to reevaluate the delicate balance between their personal lives and their bond as mother and daughter, Claire and her mother find new love and devotion for one another deeper than anything they had ever imagined.

Heartfelt, touching, and unforgettable, Life on the Refrigerator Door is a glimpse into the lives of mothers and daughters everywhere. In this deeply touching novel told through a series of notes written from a loving mother and her devoted fifteen-year-old daughter, debut author Alice Kuipers deftly captures the impenetrable fabric that connects mothers and daughters throughout the world. Moving and rich with emotion, Life on the Refrigerator Door delivers universal lessons about love in a wonderfully simple and poignant narrative.

Rate: 3.5 of 5

Get a copy: Book Depository (PaperbackWordery (Paperback)



‘I think I’ll leave this letter for you here. In this empty kitchen. So you’ll know if you come home that I love you and I miss you. Please don’t worry about me.
Your daughter,
Claire

The presentation of this book is really unique because it is presented in notes left on the fridge door. It was such a fast read since I finished it in practically one sitting. This was a very random read since I wasn’t able to find the book I was opting to read, and I saw this instead.

My heart hurts. This was one of my impulse reads and I didn’t anticipate it would have such an impact on me. It is very inspirational and heartfelt, especially the parts approaching the end.  This book is deeply moving that it just seemed so real. I liked how the author let the reader decide what was really happening in the background instead of spoon-feeding us with a to-the-point scenario. However, I love-hated how there’s this air of impending doom, but then again, the said attribute really makes for a great book.

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One qualm I have is that I feel like the pain of having a cancer patient in the family wasn’t showcased thoroughly. Instead of talking about the disease, the events around it were tackled which is, I suppose, in some way correctly portrayed the thematic intent of the book since it is just made up of notes. Personally, I’ve had numerous loved ones who had gone through this path (my grandpa died of cancer, as well.) and I wished the story was more well-developed rather than the manner that this book has gone through–too many things happening in the ends and too fast.

While the story is deeply moving, and really cry-worthy, I didn’t see the merit of making it a 4 of 5 rating. So, I’m going to settle with a 3.5 rating because  cannot say that I loved it straight-away. BUT, I see the moral and  the efforts of the story-telling. Now, excuse me. I’m going to go cry again read a new book.  

‘The worst part about coming here was that I looked on the fridge door for a note from you, and there wasn’t one. The door was white and empty. I cried for ages.’
Do I recommend it? Yes. 🙂
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Cover image and Synopsis via Goodreads; Gif via Giphy.

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo


23437156Title: 
Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Series: Six of Crows #1

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Number of Pages (Hardcover): 465

Date Published: September 29th of 2015

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

Rate: 3.5 of 5

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-AudioWordery (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-Audio)



Thoughts (No spoilers!)
‘Any other impossible feats you’d like us to accomplish?
The barest smile flickered over Kaz’s lips, ‘I’ll make you a list.’

I should start with stating that I haven’t read The Grisha Trilogy  prior to reading this because I didn’t know they were interconnected by any way until I was ten percent into the book. I alternated between reading the eBook version, the audio book, and the text-to-speech function of my reader so I didn’t really had the chance to stare at the cover, which I profusely do with a physical copy of a book. I saw that little scribbled thing that said “A Grisha Novel” on the cover of the book from a post in Instagram. Needless to say, I had to scramble my way through my panic that I had just effectively spoiled myself to the Grisha Trilogy. My panic was short-lived since I saw a question on Goodreads regarding the matter of reading this before the said series and the author stated that it won’t really be a problem. And so, I resumed my reading the book and yes, I do have the full intention of reading the next book of this duology and yes, I will be reading The Grisha Trilogy soon.

I had very high expectations with Six of Crows because I saw that almost all of my Goodreads friends who have read this book had such a good time–most actually rated it a 5 of 5! Naturally for myself, I looked forward to reading it and having such a magical experience reading it and I am very sorry to say that I wasn’t that wow-ed with the developments in the book. Now, now, I am partly attributing it to the fact that it took me a a while to get immersed within the story because I had a hard time familiarizing myself with the new terms and names flying around. But, I do want to add that I didn’t hate this book. I see the great writing, the great characters, the great world. And perhaps, in another world where I have finished reading The Grisha Trilogy before picking this up, I would have appreciated this even more because I think there would be a certain edge with what I would have known with the environment of Six of Crows. I was ready to give this a solid four-star rating, however, the slow progress and the sheer amount of time I spent trying to know the world threw me off since it took me about half the book to do so.

The plot is very smart and just by reading this you just know there’s something more waiting for you to see with the direction of the story–that there’s a background somewhere there. There such an established air to the story that you just know. It really irritated me as to how easy the characters got away with their schemes. They’re a bunch of teenagers breaking into an Azkaban-like prison and you’re telling me they can just go in, distract a few people and they can go home smoothly? I don’t buy it. So, I was a little irked with that aspect. But then again, I appreciated that this book didn’t end the way I was expecting it to be so that’s good. 

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I loved the notions of pairings in this book because it did not tell the story around the love interests but rather the love interests works its way around the story-line. Though I do love the romance aspect with my fantasy books, I appreciated the fact that the pairings were not put in the limelight as other novels do, which makes the experience of reading this book such a fresh one.

I want to throw the light to the excellent character-painting of Leigh Bardugo because I loved the diversity of the crew. There was a certain edge for every character in the story and they have certain qualities that they put into the group that it just melts into the story. The character interactions were very good as well and they mixed together flawlessly. There are six primary characters in the book namely: Kaz, Jesper, Inej, Nina, Matthias, and Wylan. Of these six characters, the only one I didn’t thoroughly appreciate is Wylan. I felt like he was just a glorified extra and I didn’t really see the merit of his existence in the group. My favorite character of all is Nina, with Jesper as a close second. I liked Nina’s character because she’s such a woman, you know? A strong, confident woman that needs no man. She’s teeming with life and a carefree attitude that I just loved her demeanor in the story. Not to mention, she’s so brave and well, gorgeous, hello? I loved each character’s mystery and how the story lies in the characters itself.

I liked that even though I haven’t read the predecessor novels before, I still had the chance to immerse myself with the universe of Six of Crows. The world-building efforts of the author, especially for those who have this as their first Bardugo book, is much appreciated and the said world is much clearer now. I’m very excited to plunge my way to the second book and also The Grisha Trilogy.

P.S. I pictured the Ice Court as the Northern Water Tribe from Aang hahahaha.

Do I recommend it? Yup!


Notes (Spoilers awaiting! If you haven’t read the book, well, dude…you’re treading murky grounds.)

*Is there a Jesper and Wylan thing happening? BECAUSE I AM ALL FOR IT TO HAPPEN.

*To say that I loved the Nina and Matthias pairing is a huge understatement I’m just so invested with their running relationship. Ugh, I just love them. There’s such a contrast to their natures that they make such  a fine couple. Kiliiiiiiiig. I want more of Matthias and Nina because omg ship. This is my fave Nina and Matthias moment:

‘Stay,’ she panted. Tears leaked from her eyes. ‘Stay till the end.’
‘And after,’ he said. ‘And always.’
‘I want to feel safe again. I want to go home to Ravka.’
‘Then I’ll take you there. We’ll set fire to raisins or whatever you heathens do for fun.’
‘Zealot,’ she said weakly.
‘Witch.’
‘Barbarian.’
‘Nina,’ he whispered, ‘little red bird. Don’t go.’

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*I had difficulty using the text-to-speech function of my reader because damn the words on this book are just crazy. Let me give you an example: my text-to-speech says Inej’s name as “I.N.E.J.”. I was so irritated I had to read it.

*I wonder what happened to Nina?! Will she get better? DON’T KILL OFF MY FAVORITE PLEASE.

*I thought Wylan was really unnecessary (or would he be a key character in the next book? No no no don’t answer that.)

*Why doesn’t Wylan have his own chapters?

*What’s the point of the individual chapters when the writing isn’t even in their voices?

 *I’m just a little frustrated with this Kaz and Inej thing. How hard is it to tell Inej you like her, huh Kaz? But then again, he is a very complex character, one I would want to know more of. He has went through a lot (omg that bit where he used his brother to get to land my heart is just it hurts ouch).

She’d laughed, and if he could have bottled the sound and gotten drunk on it every night, he would have. It terrified him.
Be my friend on Goodreads!


*Cover image and Synopsis via Goodreads; Gifs via Giphy.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

827610Title: The Wasp Factory

Author: Iain Banks

Series: none

Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, Fiction

Number of Pages (Paperback): 244

Date Published: April 1st of 1992 (first published in 1984)

Publisher: Abacus 

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank’s mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric’s escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother’s inevitable return – an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.

Rate: 3.5 of 5

Get a copy: Book Depository (Paperback)


If I said that I was “conflicted” with my rating on this book, it would be a huge understatement. It’s a good book but I don’t know if it’s cut for my tastes just yet. I do acknowledge the fact that this is one of those controversial books to which my reaction was purely a roller coaster ride.

I thought the synopsis was really interesting and that got me hooked into it in just a snap. Needless to say, I had high hopes for this book. The copy I had acquired was a 25th anniversary edition so I was confident that this would wow me since it has managed to survive for more than 25 years now. What left me was a conflicting reaction to it.

This is certainly not for the soft-hearted reader. If you just want a light-hearted read, well then, get off this because my friend, this is not cut out for you. This has left me, perhaps eighty percent of the time, feeling disturbed–as if there was something over the horizons. It’s really not a nice feeling, I’m gonna tell you that.

There were so many channels of “mystery” for the story to go through and I was a little disappointed because I felt like there were too many pages that were wasted to the everyday life processes of Frank. I wanted to know more about his dad, his mom, Eric, his friends, etc. So many channels that may have been given the chance to be explored. But oh well. Half the time, the prospect of Eric and his backstory was the motivation for me to finish this book. I’ve picked this up and chucked it off in my bookshelf more than three times because I found myself as someone who cannot handle it. But then! Sixty pages away from the end of the book, shit started going down! THAT WAS A PLOT TWIST I CANNOT HANDLE AND IT CERTAINLY IS EXPLOSIVE (wink, wink). I didn’t expect that, no, it didn’t even pass through my mind–not once.

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Don’t get me started on the last paragraph of the book. It is so–just what an ending. It’s weird how the novel comes together in just that simple way, even a little childish in some sense. HOW?! *warning: don’t read the quote below if you don’t want spoilers*

“Poor Eric came home to see his brother, only to find (Zap! Pow! Dams burst! Bombs go off! Wasps fry: ttssss!) he’s got a sister.”

If there was any redeemable thing about it, I would say the ending. The beginning of the book up until the middle was kinda idle for my taste.  It didn’t keep me engaged all throughout it. But, I refused to make an opinion of a book if I didn’t even had the guts to finish it. Sometimes something is there in the end. And that proved to be right in this book’s case. So yeah, even though the ending was fire, I sure did hope that the beginning was more of a throat-getter.

Further, I must confess, I am still confused as to what really constitutes “the wasp factory” here. I know there is some sort of symbolism somewhere there but I’m still trying to reconcile my thoughts on this because so many ideas are swirling around my head as of the moment.

This was certainly a horrifying read. There was something about the particular deeds of killing that seemed to pass it off as something ordinary, e.g. doing the laundry, doing the dishes, taking a walk, etc.. It was even deemed as a “phase”. God, that gave me goosebumps.

I give this 3.5 because it was certainly more than something that’s okay but less than something I would deem 4-star worthy. I guess I still am not in that stage where I can further appreciate this. Or the genre is not something I would really fancy but it’s a book that I know is good, but did not like at the same time. But I must tell you, this. This is certainly literature. There were some sense of reality in it and I loved how raw it is and how it did not romanticize things but something that certainly made you think; disturbing, thought-provoking.

Do I recommend it? You know what? I don’t know, really. Okay, let’s come to a compromise. If you think you’re not too soft-hearted and you want to think, sure go on ahead and pick up a copy, trooper. On the other hand, if you think that you are more of a light reader, don’t even dare. Because, my man, your head will be twisted in odd directions. You have been warned; this is hard–straight-up. Although, maybe picking this up would heighten your horizon in some way. Well fuck, even in the recommendation part I’m still conflicted.

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*Cover image and Synopsis via Goodreads; Gifs via Giphy.