My Progress On The Reading Challenge

It’s been a while since I posted a book review on this blog, or gave you guys an update as to how my 2015 Reading Challenge is going so far. And the reason why that section of the blog has been absent for a while is because…well… [hangs head in shame] I haven’t made much progress at all.

I tried, I really did. But then, I got sucked into the merciless abyss of ‘distractions’ which involved binge-watching animes, watching re-runs of some of my favorite shows, singing along at the top of my lungs to karaokes, and napping. Lots of napping.

giphy

I know, I know. I did wrong, so you can stop shaking your head at the screen.

I think one of the major reasons why I’m not as excited about reading books as I used to be is the fact that I have to read them off my computer screen. Since I’m not going to school at the moment and live in a country which doesn’t have a public library with the kind of books I would like to read, it means I can only read these books on my computer. Which is great! Hail technology, the internet and the fact that I have a decent laptop for a reading device. But there is one huge drawback to reading novels like this:

giphy

It takes a lot of energy to sit in front of my laptop and continuously read line after line after line of text. This is also why I’ll never get a Kindle device (well, maybe not never but it’s at the bottom of my list). Paperbacks rule. Real books are meant to be held and read while curled up on a nice sofa. I used to collect bookmarks as a kid and have several but never got the chance to use them for years now. It’s not much fun poking a flat screen with a thin bookmark and hoping it would magically go through. That is the one major reason why I don’t read as much nowadays. It hurts my eyes and frustrates my brain.

That’s why I’ve been engaging my time doing other things – some of which have sparked my creativity. Believe it or not, I get a lot of inspiration for my stories from animes. So I may not be spending my time productively as I could but I’m still not wasting it away either. At the moment, I’m watching an anime called Tokyo Ghoul which is a paranormal thriller/horror. I’ve never had the guts at attempting to write in that genre but I might after this as the anime and its story line is stirring up some ideas of my own.

Plus, I’ve also been doing lots of reading of stories on writing community websites like Protagonize and Wattpad. Although they don’t count as books that I can add to my reading challenge for the year on Goodreads, if they did, I’d be far ahead by now. If only…

The good news is I won’t be stuck in this situation for much longer. Once I head back to India and start university in June, the first thing I’ll do is find a wonderful public library, become a member and start checking out a heck-load of books. Finding the time to read them will be another issue in itself, but I think for the first couple days, I’ll just spread them around my bed and lie down amidst the company of the beautiful works of literature. I might also sniff a few (is it just me or do books smell beyond amazing?)

Until that moment arrives however, I’m going to get back to reading – slowly but surely. I managed to dig around a few unpacked boxes and found my hard copy of The Kite Runner. Maybe that’ll get me a little pumped about reading again.

In any case, I am terribly sorry for not updating this blog with more book reviews as I had been doing before, but here’s to hoping I get back on track very soon!

P.S. It’s my birthday today. So if any of you want to bite my head off or scold me for being an unworthy and uncommitted reader, I’m going to pull out the birthday card.

Advertisements

Beatrice Reviews “Our Last Summer: A Personal Memoir” by Ajay Peter Manuel

“Our Last Summer: A Personal Memoir” by Ajay Peter Manuel

★★

51SU7r4XwYL

Life is an adventure to embark upon. Having traveled around the world, my life has been full of separations, and new beginnings. Time flows incessantly, no matter what happens around us. The last six years of my life describe a unique journey from high school in Sudan to a university in Canada. The experience enabled me to learn the importance of family, friends, and love- along with the need to live life without regrets. My story begins with my struggles as an eleventh grader at Khartoum American School in Sudan, revealing the raw emotions of my first infatuation with a girl, her rejection, and my subsequent efforts to move on without her. Nothing could have prepared me then for the sequence of events that were to unfold in my life that summer, and the few years that followed. It all began when I found a friend in Tina. Our Last Summer offers a poignant glimpse into a young man’s coming-of-age journey through laughter, tears, betrayal, infatuation, and love as he cherishes the memories of his past, learns to live in the present, and happily anticipates his future.

 

One of the reading challenges on the list is to read a memoir and I figured – hey! It just so happens that my brother has a published book which is a memoir – why not read that? And so I did.

Our Last Summer is the journey of a teenager’s transition into adulthood through his various experiences through friendship, family, and love. We delve into the writer’s past as he reminisces of his time in high school that helped him to become the person he is today. As the blurb above suggests, this ranges from many things that we can all relate to on some level – relationships with people that have opened our eyes to what true friendship is about, our first experience with ‘crushing’ on someone and finding the will to have your heart move on from the hurt of a betrayal. Our Last Summer has something to offer everyone, especially to those who too are fond of their years in high school.

Life always presents us with hurdles and reality doesn’t come without its share of regrets, but you can always make one hell of a nice story about it.

The memoir, of course, employs the narrative voice of a first person point of view. We slip into the shoes and mindset of the writer as he shares his story with us. The ‘characters’, in this case are not fictional, but actual people. If at all, it only makes it easier to relate to them.

We all have that extremely close friend who we think of as a brother or sister. We’ve also had our share of first crushes and infatuations that later had us going: ‘what had gotten into my mind?’ Reading this book, I was able to connect to the various personalities I came across, bearing in mind my own experiences and friends that I’ve had as well.

I also loved the style in which the memoir was written. First and foremost, each chapter started off with a small quote that kind of foreshadows what the chapter will be covering. I found that each quote tied in nicely with the chapter while reading, in a way enhancing the message that Ajay Peter Manuel is trying to get through and at the same time, posing questions to the reader.

Be it success, joy, failure, or disappointment, a man who lives freely should be able to accept the reality of such experiences; even when all is lost, continue to live with hope and dream to strive for the best.

Our Last Summer isn’t only explored through chapters narrating the events of his high school life but the writer also includes poetry, lyrics, and journal entries to bring forth the raw emotions he was feeling at the time. The poems and songs were beautifully written to fit into the mood the chapter brings forth, and delving into his journal entries was a good change from the narration, giving us a more personal insight. I also loved the bits and pieces of light humor and jokes that pop up in the novel from time to time.

She said, “I hate you!” Three words—and she might as well have killed me then.

The only possible drawback I could say there was to this novel is the pacing. Some may find that the pacing of the story is slow, and at certain parts it did seem to drag on. But also, I have to keep in mind that this piece is a memoir. I can see that Ajay Peter Manuel is simply trying to paint a full picture in the minds of the readers and to explore the spectrum of emotions he feels to help take us back on this journey with him.

Our Last Summer is a wondrous blend of poetry and prose, that not only shares the story of the writer himself but a story we have all lived, or will live, at some point in this miracle called life. Through his journey, we recount our own and it’s a melancholic and bittersweet read. Having putting the book down, I felt lighter, happier and had my own walk down memory lane (as cliche as that sounds).

In life, when you bring people together, share your lives together, indulging in their emotions as they do in yours, you risk changing things and losing control. It’s all chaos – until you look back and realize that the only thing you can do is record time as it passes so that even when everything around us is in motion, we still have the permanence of memories.

Ajay Peter Manuel not only invites us to revisit the memories he formed as a budding young man in high school, but reminds us of the beauty of forming our own.

Beatrice Reviews “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson (Novel)

“I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson
★★

20820994
Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

 

Just before I had started to read this book, I had realized how much I’d been dishing out 5*s for different books and decided it was time to get serious and not give away that rating so easily. So when I started reading, I tried to keep that thought in mind and put on my micro-vision specs, determined to find at least one flaw with this book. The more I read, the more desperate I grew. I ended up fighting a battle in my mind as I gave I’ll Give You the Sun 5*s and adding it to my ‘all time favourites’ shelf on Goodreads because it is a literary masterpiece. 

Continue reading

Beatrice Reviews “Maybe Not” by Colleen Hoover (Novella)

“Maybe Not” by Colleen Hoover

★★
description

Colleen Hoover, the New York Times bestselling author of Maybe Someday brilliantly brings to life the story of the wonderfully hilarious and charismatic Warren in a new novella, Maybe Not.

When Warren has the opportunity to live with a female roommate, he instantly agrees. It could be an exciting change.

Or maybe not.

Especially when that roommate is the cold and seemingly calculating Bridgette. Tensions run high and tempers flare as the two can hardly stand to be in the same room together. But Warren has a theory about Bridgette: anyone who can hate with that much passion should also have the capability to love with that much passion. And he wants to be the one to test this theory.

Will Bridgette find it in herself to warm her heart to Warren and finally learn to love?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

*NOTE: This is going to be a spoiler-free review but I will be sharing some of my favorite quotes from the book, and general opinions on its’ characters, story-line, etc. No big reveals!*

“She’s mean, Warren. Probably the meanest girl I’ve ever met in my life. So if she murders you in your sleep, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

When I read about Warren and Bridgette’s relationship in Maybe Someday, I couldn’t help but fall in love with both of them, even though they weren’t the central focus of that story. They are in this book though, and that’s why I was flippin’ out about the fact that there is an actual spin-off dedicated to those two.

description

“You kiss like you’re trying to resuscitate a dead cat,” she says, disgusted. “You kiss like you are a dead cat.”.

Warren and Bridgette have a love-hate relationship. You open the book having that piece of information about the two if you read Maybe Someday beforehand. But seeing as this novella is purely dedicated to letting us witness Warren have growing affections for his new roommate, we see sides to both of them that we never had the chance to before.

“You did smile, Bridgette,” I whisper. “And you need to own it, because it was fucking beautiful.”

There were moments that made me sigh and want to wish Warren were real so I could give him a huge hug, and moments that had me laughing really, really hard. Whatever doubts I’d had about the pair’s relationship while reading Maybe Someday vanished. Because they’re perfect for each other.

The very first chapter started off in such a way that had me shaking my head to myself in laughter, going “classic Warren”. I loved reading this story mainly because we got to learn about and explore more of other characters that hadn’t been the main focus of Maybe Someday. There’s more Brennan-interaction – which made me happy as he only appears a few times in MS. We also discover Bridgette’s full story, which for those of you who didn’t find her likable in the first book will definitely warm up to now.

Halfway through Maybe Not, we see the start of Maybe Someday‘s storyline with Sydney moving into their apartment. And while we already know what exactly is going to go down for Sydney and Ridge, we also get an extra glimpse of ‘behind-the-scene’ shenanigans through Warren’s perspective. For example, why Warren is so addicted to porn. And it’s not just cause he’s Warren, trust me.

“The only difference between falling in love and being in love is that your heart already knows how you feel, but your mind is too stubborn to admit it.”

Compared to its previous novel, Maybe Not lacks the magic and page-turning thrill that Maybe Someday provides us. But doesn’t have to be perceived as a bad thing as it’s a novella, and a light-hearted story compared to the angst-filled and emotional MS. It’s also a lot more smutty (it’s Warren and Bridgette we’re talking about here) but I saw that coming.

description

Unlike other novels *coughs* 50 Shades of Grey and Bared to You *coughs* where the sex is absolutely pointless and does NOTHING to add to the actual progression of the story – it’s justified in this case. Besides, it’s Warren-smut. *wiggles eyebrows* A definite must read for fans of Bridgette and Warren! I give Maybe Not a Warren-ful 4*s (see what I did there)!

The 2015 Reading Challenge

One of the resolutions I made for this year is to read again.

I love reading. It’s probably the biggest passion I’ve had ever since I was a child. I would spend my after-school hours in the school library, instead of going home and watching movies or playing games like most children my age did then. I would check out the maximum amount of books I could, and since I was a favorite of the librarian, got to check out five more than normally allowed for an elementary student (an advantage I abused way too much). I won two award certificates – one in elementary school, and again in middle school for being the student who read the most books on campus (something I pride myself in till this day). I would tell my parents goodnight at a decent hour and head to bed but sneak in a book under the covers of my blanket. With the bedside lamp turned on and the sound of the cool air whooshing into the room from the A/C, countless hours of sleep would be sacrificed devouring each and every word a book had to offer me.

Sometimes I wanted to know more about the characters. Sometimes I just wanted to tag along on the journey of when the protagonist explored a new land or planet. I wanted to get away from the mundane life I believed I had and immerse myself in a universe with limitless opportunities.

All I ever wanted to do was to read. 

Over the years though, as school-work started to pile up and suddenly life took first priority and wasn’t so ‘mundane’ anymore, I stopped reading. When I moved to Sierra Leone and went to a school that didn’t have a good library, I was truly heartbroken over the fact that I didn’t have any access to endless shelves stacked with books, books and more books. I stopped reading – and I hate that I did.

That’s why this year, I want to do what I love again. For 2015, the reading challenge I set myself  is to read a minimum of 50 books. I have a feeling I’ll definitely pass the 50 mark but I didn’t want to be too ambitious especially as I never know how busy life might make me again. I definitely don’t want these 50 books to be ones I’ve read before, unless the challenge states otherwise. I’m planning on reading mainly classics, books released in 2014 and sci-fi/fantasy genre novels.

I came across a reading challenge list on Tumblr. It looked pretty interesting so I thought; hey! Why not give it a shot? I’ve got nothing to lose, right? I’ll be updating this list and ‘tick off’ the challenges I complete as I go along. If you guys have any recommendations for books that I could read, do comment! I would be even happier if they were classics/sci-fi/fantasy/published in 2014. And if you’re doing the reading challenge as well, why not join me in this adventure?

***

bold: complete

(parentheses: book assigned to challenge)

*a book you can finish in a day (Maybe Someday)

*a book with more than 500 pages (East of Eden)

*a classic romance (Persuasion)

*a book that became a movie (Wild)

*a book published this year (The Girl on the Train)

*a book with a number in the title (1984)

*a book written by someone under 30 (Hyperbole and a Half)

*a book with nonhuman characters (Watership Down)

*a funny book (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

*a book by a female author

*a mystery or thriller

*a book with a one word title

*a book of short stories

*a book set in a different country

*a nonfiction book (The Official Preppy Handbook)

*a popular author’s first book

*a book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet

*a book a friend recommended (The Scarlet Letter)

*a Pulitzer Prize winning book

*a book based on a true story

*a book at the bottom of your to-read list

*a book your mom loves (A Tale of Two Cities)

*a book that scares you

*a book more than 100 years old (Anna Karenina)

*a book based entirely on its cover

*a book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t

*a memoir (Our Last Summer)

*a book with antonyms in the title

*a book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

*a book that came out the year you were born (Tuesdays with Morrie)

*a book with bad reviews

*a trilogy

*a book from your childhood (Charlotte’s Web)

*a book with a love triangle

*a book set in the future

*a book set in high school

*a book with a color in the title

*a book that made you cry

*a book with magic

*a graphic novel (Ouran High School Host Club)

*a book by an author you’ve never read before (I’ll Give You The Sun)

*a book you own but have never read (The Kite Runner)

*a book that takes place in your hometown (Gods, Kings & Slaves: The Siege of Madurai)

*a book that was originally written in a different language

*a book set during Christmas

*a book written by an author with your same initials

*a play

*a banned book

*a book based on or turned into a TV show

*a book you started but never finished

***