Uncategorized · wrap up

November 2016 Wrap Up: Romance! Crime! Angst! Anna Kendrick!

I had a lot of plans for my November TBR and I got to only…1 of those. This is why I don’t do TBRs. There are two that I will have a mini review for in December so look out for those but the rest I’ll mention my thoughts here.

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‘Night Mother by Marsha Norman (2/5)

This month’s play selection was a little disappointing even though the premise sounded so interesting. It’s about a grown daughter who has decided to commit suicide so she goes over to her mother’s house to tell her this and to set things in order before she goes. At first, I thought the mother-daughter dynamics were really interesting especially with the mother knowing her daughter was going to commit suicide that night but as it progressed, it just became more generic and bland.There’s a backstory that is slowly revealed throughout but the characters were not engaging enough for me to really feel the need to know that backstory.


The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (4/5)

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“Fun” Storytime with Carolyn: To put a hold at my local library, I have to pay 25 cents. I put a hold for The Sympathizer and couldn’t read it until a few days before it was due and when it was due, I couldn’t renew it because someone else had put a hold on it..So I had to return it and put another hold on it because it’s so popular, it was the only way I could get it -_- so basically I put

a hold on it the first time for no reason. But enough of my first world-problems, the good part is that I really liked this book and I have a full review here.



The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson (3/5)

Jeannette Winterson is quite the name in literary fiction but I thought The Stone Gods was just ok. The best part of the book was her writing as it was probably some of the best writing I’ve read this year. It’s a literary scifi novel set far off into the future where Earth has been destroyed and we have moved to another planet. It follows a woman named Billie and she’s a reporter who meets a robot named Spike and it’s their love storyImage result for the stone gods essentially. But the book is more like 3 novellas packed into one because each section of the book follows a reincarnation of Billie and Spike and their subsequent love story. Her writing feels very modern but this book is also an ode to nature so the writing also feels ethereal and references old myths and legends. It’s a humorous satire on the damage, we as humans, do to our planet and the
same mistakes that we inevitably make over and over again. The scifi aspects with the plastic surgery and all were a little gimmicky to me and felt too obvious (if that makes sense) and sometimes it felt as if her writing was just jumping from one place to the next without any cohesiveness.


Smut by Karina Halle (3.75/5)

If you’ve been following my blog the past couple of months you’ll know that I’ve been looking for a light and fluffy romance read that I could actually finish from beginning to end. I was having no such luck because true to stereotype romance is so satImage result for smut karina halleurated with the same cliches and carbon copy characters just with different names. This month I finally found a cute NA romance read that wasn’t offensive and didn’t bore me to tears. It’s about a woman named Amanda who dreams of becoming a published author. She’s in the same writing class as Blake, the hot and (arrogant of course) guy who gets paired up with her for a project. And things go from there. I really appreciated the slow burn haters-to-lovers trope executed very well. I also appreciated the minimal description of the other person’s physical features. The story was adorable, the heroine actually has a professional goal and works for it (!), the side characters were all fun and quirky, there was no contrived drama for angst purposes, so many nerdy references, and of course, my favorite–witty banter between our two main characters. Love it.


So for these next few books, I’m going to have separate reviews for them in December but they were definitely my favorite reads of November.

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (audiobook) (4/5)

Signal to Noise by SIlvia Moreno-Garcia (4/5)


Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Doestoevsky (3/5)

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For some reason, I thought this classic was basically going to be a guy meditating in jail for the entire story. And I was totally off..so off..In terms of the story, I definitely liked the individual parts more than its sum. There are some really thought-provoking ideas in this like what makes a criminal or even if certain criminals have a right to commit crimes. The main character had such an interesting dichotomy. He wants to be a part of society but at the same time transcend society because he has such a disdain for it. Everyone else was pretty bland. The stream of consciousness is really well done.

 


Graphic Novels

Sensation Comics: Wonder Woman Vol. 2 by various authors and artists (3.5/5)

Image result for Sensation Comics: Wonder Woman Vol. 2So I’m completely obsessed with Wonder Woman now. I recently watched the 2009 animated movie which I have some mixed thoughts about it but that’s gonna be for my movie wrap up. This comic is different from other comics I’ve read because it is essentially a bunch of short stories about Wonder Woman (flash fiction if you will) each by a different author and artist. I really like that because if you don’t like the art or the story, it will only last for a few pages. As with any medium like this, you’re gonna get some you like and some you don’t but overall I thought this was a really good introduction to Wonder Woman and what she stands for. I particularly enjoyed Noelle Stevenson’s story.

 


Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Cook (3/5)

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This is my favorite graphic novel in terms of artstyle. It is drawn using watercolor and the colors are blended in a sort of mosaic fashion that just blends so well. But it has this “scritch-scratch” that stil has those crisp lines that I really like. I can’t describe it!! I’m not an art person! What is art!! Anyways, the story was only ok. It’s a light horror story about a girl who is believed to be a witch reincarnated. I felt like the story lacked a strong plot and moved too quickly for me to become invested in the characters.

 

 
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I have a lot of books I want to get to before the end of the year (ah!!) so hopefully December reading is just as good or better than November’s. December is also exciting because I’m reconstructing my blog!! So if you see a lot of changes in terms of look, you’ll know why. I’ll keep you updated! Otherwise, let me know what books you read in November and what your reading plans are for this last stretch of 2016!

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Book Recommendations · book review · Uncategorized · wrap up

July 2016 Wrap Up

June, I mean July, wow…get it together Carolyn was a fail reading month in terms of number of books (5). Quantity wise..meh..it could be better but I did enjoy most of the books I read. I know July has also been a whack blogging month with me not posting as consistently as I usually do but I’ll explain more in my July Favorites. Onto the books!

The first book I read was actually a reread:

Legend by Marie Lu

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3/5

 

I loved it the first time around, hated it the second time. What happened? I explain all of my thoughts and feelings in my discussion post here.


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3.5/5

On the other side of the spectrum, I read Sunstone Vol. 1 by Stjepan Sejic (Graphic novel)

 

The red on the cover really, really makes it seem like some really, really intense erotica, with lots of really kinky sex scenes but it’s definitely a lot more lighthearted than it would seem. It is a romantic comedy following two women who are into BDSM (one’s a dominant, the other a submissive) who meet over the internet and they hit it off and start a relationship. Contrary to what popular books might have us believe *stares pointedly at 50 Shades of Grey* it is possible to portray a healthy BDSM relationship in a book. What a concept. And really, it made the desire to be in a BDSM relationship and all its quirks seem utterly understandable from a non BDSM perspective. The interaction between our main characters is sweet and almost cheesy. And I really like that the steamy scenes are very integral to our character’s development which makes it more sensual rather than just being there for the sake of being a hot scene. I adore the art too. It’s very muted in some areas but deep and vibrant in others but all with some kind of red in them.


And then on the other side of the spectrum once again, I read a literary theory book called

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4/5

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose.

 

This book is about exactly what the title says. Prose dissects famous sentences and pieces of dialogue and points of view, as well as explain to us why details and character gestures and paragraph structure is so important. When do I break a paragraph? How much detail is needed? Which POV do I use? It sounds like some grammar lover’s heaven but it actually was really informative and you can tell that Prose has a deep passion for reading and writing (how fitting considering her name). We love our stories but we often underestimate how much word choice actually matters to telling that story. Whether to use a comma or semicolon etc. matters. It just gave me such a deep appreciation for the little things that writers have to think about while writing a book or anything really. I do think that the examples she gives us sometimes feel too long; she’ll give us some text from a classic or modern classic and then analyzes that section but the analysis would be so much shorter than the actual text she gave and I feel like she does contradict herself sometimes. She also does have a habit of sounding subtly pretentious when she writes about what constitutes “good” writing which I didn’t find bothersome at all (maybe because I’m low key pretentious about writing) but it might bother others.


And the last full book I completed was Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, my favorite book of the month. It is absolutely amazing. I highly recommend this series. I did write a full review here.

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4.25/5

 


DNF- Nuts by Alice Clayton

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In my neverending quest for a stellar romance novel, I decided to give Nuts by Alice Clayton after hearing so many good things about it. It’s an interesting concept for a romance novel, I’ll give you that because the love interest is a farmer. Nope, not the usual fantasy like firefighter or pliceman or doctor or mafia boss or motorcycle rider but a farmer? Sure why not. Our main character, Roxie, is a chef in LA and her mother has just got an offer to go on the TV show, The Amazing Race. She pleads with Roxie to return and manage the restaurant while she’s away even though Roxie does not want to go back to her hometown (this reminds me so much of Sweet Home Alabama). But she reluctantly agrees and there, she sparks a relationship with local farmer, Leo. I’m sad to say that this romance novel really did not cut it for me (I DNFed it at 25%ish). First of all, Roxie is your stereotypical “I-don’t-do-relationships” type of person which is getting to be one of THE MOST annoying romance tropes of all time. Oh you’re such a special snowflake, you don’t do relationships, where have I heard that before?? Oh yeah, in every other fucking romance novel. Girl, we know you do do relationships because we all know by the end of the book you’re gonna be that sexy hunk you met on page 10. Second of all, you don’t write believable sexual tension by saying “The tension was so thick..” Just because you write that will not make me believe it so the romance was pretty much subpar.

I’m basically not having any luck with romance this year so I’m bringing out the big guns in August and I’m going to read It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. I thought her last book and most people’s favorite CoHo book, Maybe Someday was just ok but I’ve heard people say this one is the best CoHo book and it’s unlike anything she’s ever written. We’ll see about that.


Anyways, as for what I’m currently reading, I’m reading A History of Seven Killings by Marlon James still. I’m really liking it. It’s just dense. I’m also more than halfway through Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and haha, oh man, do I have things to say about this script. Be prepared for much ranting in my next post. And finally, I’m just starting to read Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman which I’m liking it so far although I am only on page like 10 so take that with a grain of salt.

How was your July reading? Any new favorites? Disappointments? Have you read any of these books before? If so, let me know your thoughts. =)

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Book Recommendations · book review · Uncategorized

Mini Book Reviews: Nonfiction

 

Happy Easter everyone! I’m currently in the midst of packing so I can go back to my apartment and start my last quarter at school..In other news, my heart goes out to those in Belgium and Iraq. I don’t know how I was going to transition into these set of reviews but I wanted to review a few nonfiction books that I’ve read recently. I hope you find something you enjoy! 🙂

 

Catfish and Mandala 4370-“Some call you the lost brothers. Look at you. Living in America has lightened your skin, made you forget your language. You eat nutritious Western food and you are bigger and stronger than us. You know better than to smoke and drink like Vietnamese. Someday, your blood will mix so well with the Western blood that there will be no difference between you and them. You are already lost to us.”

Rating: 4 stars

Author: Andrew X. Pham

Goodreads

Older generation Vietnamese people are obsessed with the Vietnam War, obsessed. We have countless songs and stories about it and I find that a LOT of Vietnamese/Vietnamese American literature focuses solely on the war and not much else. Which is why I’m so glad I found Catfish and Mandala. It focuses not only on the immigration experience but also immerses us into the country of Vietnam, its beauty but also its dark underbelly. Pham alternates between the past in which he recounts how he escaped to America and the brutal reality of not knowing where you belong but also the present where he tries to come to terms with not only his ambivalence towards Vietnam but the circumstances surrounding the suicide of his transgender sister and the numerous generational conflicts of his parents. I thought it was written in a very honest way and I find that Pham writes with an extra touch of style that a lot of Vietnamese American authors I’ve read lack. It was interesting to see an almost immediate account of someone escaping on a boat when I’ve really only heard about it indirectly through family members.

Between the World and Me25489625 “I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.”

Rating: 3 Stars

Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Goodreads

What it’s about-A father writing letters to his son about his experience as a black man in America, what it means to be black in America, and what he hopes for the future of race in America.

This book has gotten rave reviews from so many people and I had really high hopes but alas, it’s another one of those overhyped books that I did not seem to like as much. #hipster jk, kind of. DOn’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like about this book. Coates has some really interesting race theories that I’ve never encountered before. He boils down the conflict of the black people to violence of the black “body” and how there will always be this barrier to the American dream for the black people because the American dream was made possible because of the enslavement and degradation of black people. He asks us to reevaluate what the American dream even means. And he includes many contemporary examples of police brutality including Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. Which is where I had problems. See, he simplifies the problem too much. It’s not about blacks vs. whites, it’s not about police vs. blacks, good vs. evil. He never gives me the other points of view. I want to know the full story and because he doesn’t give me those other POVs, it just ends up sounding like propaganda. And for all the philosophy that he gives, he’s actually kind of vague and abstract about all of them which just makes it feel like he spewed out anything on his  mind and that was that. The structure of the book is also quite erratic. It just jumps from one thing to another almost like a stream of consciousness. So I think this book is worth reading but it does have his flaws.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers-“It seemed to him that in Annawadi, fortunes derived not just from what pe12900261_1077589925596072_93077103_nople did, or how well they did it, but from the accidents and catastrophes they dodged. A decent life was the train that hadn’t hit you, the slumlord you hadn’t offended, the malaria you hadn’t caught.”

Rating: 4 stars

Author: Katherine Boo

Goodreads

Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize
I was a little skeptical going into this book because it’s a book about a Mumbai slum written from a Western perspective. There’s always the fear of the viewing the West as the “savior”, things like that. But I’m very happy it didn’t dissolve into that. Instead, Boo paints these people with tenderness and detached sentimentality that makes it all the more powerful and heart-wrenching. There was a point in the book where a woman self-immolates herself so her family can get money from the another family that they have incriminated and all the boy from the other family can think about is that he is going to jail. I thought it was impressive that Boo writes about poverty as not about just being poor and not having enough food to eat. It is about the lengths that people will go to to survive and move up in the social hierarchy. It’s about the elevated power of money when everyone is poor and how that leads to a  deeply ingrained game of corruption that everyone in this community has to play in or they will not survive. It’s a stunning piece of investigative journalism where you read about what Boo did to acquire this information. I believe that she lived in Mumbai for a time. She had eyewitness accounts and interviews to many of the people and events described in the book. She spent years trying to obtain certain records to use in the book. I think her dedication really shines.

Just a side note- This book is narrative nonfiction which means that it’s a real story but Boo writes the story in third person as if the people in it were fictional characters like
“James went to the store and bought tomatoes” like a book version of a documentary. It can be a bad thing to some readers as it makes it feel like a story instead of something that has actually happened to real people but it depends on the reader. I personally didn’t mind.

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Misc · Uncategorized

10 Thoughts a Goodreads user has

  1. Why are there are no half-stars!

what annoyed bernie sanders are you kidding me reaction

Um just to be clear, this book was actually a 1.57897 star not a 1..

2. When the most popular review gave it a five stars but then then the review below it gave it a 1 star. Who do i trust???

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ok..

3.When you hate a book but feel lonely amidst the sea of 5 star reviews.

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Ok, guys, pretty sure it’s not THAT good..

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Uh..guys??

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Ok..I’m out

4. When you get to the “weird” part of Goodreads..

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It’s at the top of my TBR..heh..heh…no

5. When you spend too much time on it because you were looking at people’s favorites shelves.

6. When you look at one page but that leads to 10 more books being added to your TBR.

I clicked “Want to Read” 10 times in the past 10 minutes.

7. Reading a one star review of your favorite book like

8. When you see how many shelves people make…

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how about book-i-need-to-read-tomorrow or book-based-on-candles or books-i-haven’t-read-yet-but-are-on-my-shelf-and-also-recommended-by-my-grandma.

9. When fancasting gets out of hand..

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I fail to see how Chris Hemsworth looks like the main character but he is hot?

10. Reading really harsh reviews like

If I were an author I would not read these reviews considering how sensitive I am..lol. I’m not suppose to take it personally but I can’t help it.

What are some thoughts you have as a fellow Goodreads user? Do you even use Goodreads? If not, what bookish site do you use to keep track of your books?

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wrap up

August 2015 Wrap Up

I think August was my favorite month of the summer in terms of reading; I just read a lot of really good books this month. I read a total of 15 books and that’s probably the most it’s going to be for the rest of the year what with me going back to school this month. Just a side note, I have provided links to reviews that I’ve done.

So at the beginning of the month, I read Uprooted and then after that, I loosely participated in the Booktubeathon and I have a mini review on all the books I read during the booktubeathon in my booktubeathon wrap up.

Then after that, I read:

 (3.5/5)                    (4/5)

The Wrong Side of Right by Jean Marie Thorne– Cute and entertaining although it did drag at parts and the political aspects were a little on the convenient side for me but I expected that. I really liked the love interest (Andy Lawrence) in this one 🙂

A Lot Like Love by Julie James– Julie James is fast becoming my romance contemporary queen! Not that I had that many in the first place so that’s not saying too much…James just writes banter and sexual tension oh so well. Everything about this story was done just right, the story, the characters etc. and just leaves me with the biggest smile. I’m looking forward to reading her other novels.

(4/5)                          (3.5/5)

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens– I’ve lost my Dickens virginity. It was fantastic.

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith– I loved how we got a historical fiction story about a young black girl who wants to be a pilot. It’s a story that we don’t get to read about a lot. I really liked the main character’s voice and her determination. With that being said, I did think that the plot and side characters had a lot more potential and if that were true, I think this story could have been more nuanced but I really enjoyed it for what it was.

   (2/5)                         (3/5)

East of West Vol. 1 by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Frank Martin– This is a scifi western graphic novel and I was sorely disappointed. Convoluted plot, interesting-but-then-boring characters, inconsistent worldbuilding. I finished it and still didn’t know what was going on. Will not be continuing with this series.

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan– Unfortunately, the author died before she could write anymore. I either feel she had the potential to be really pretentious or really insightful. I thought her fiction was ok but her nonfiction was fantastic; she just describes so accurately what it’s like to be a college student. Because of that, I do feel this book is best read if you’re in college, or about to go to college, or have just graduated from college.

(3/5)                          (3.5/5)

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley– The beginning reminds me a lot of The Fault in Our Stars especially the main character’s voice. It’s sick-lit that’s trying not to be about sick-lit essentially. I think this has one of the most unique, original worlds I’ve read about in fantasy. It has such a magical quality to it. Even though it is unique, I wish there was more development with it so I can fully grasp the world and I felt like the characters were more been-there-done-that archetypes but I’m looking forward to the sequel!

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning-By no means, the most well-crafted novel I’ve ever read, what it is though, is fast-paced and addicting. It’s set in Dublin which I thought was really fascinating and I liked the learning about the Fae world. The main character reminded me a lot of Elle Woods from Legally Blonde which was endearing even though she thought catcalls were cute..hint: It’s not. Also, Jerricho Barrons is bae.

 (5/5)                        (3.5/5)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanigihara– Best book of this month. One of the best books of this year, in my opinion.

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman– I linked my review to the first book but this was fast-paced and addicting sequel to The Prisoner of Night and Fog. The author really knows her WWII stuff and it continues to show. I thought this duology wrapped up really nicely at the end.

And that was my reading month! I hope you had an awesome reading month as well! Let me know what your favorite book of the month was or how your August went or what your dog did or any crazy adventures you had..Anything in August! =)

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