Books

And her nose stuck in a book – January 2015

Welcome to the first installment of my spoiler-free book reviews… well, “reviews.” I will never go in depth with any book, these are more like quick reactions to the books I’ve read at the end of each month. I hope this leads you to a great book discovery. Let’s spread the book love around!

  • The Queen of the Tearling
    The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

    Totally judged this book by its cover. And it not only looks and feels gorgeous to the touch.. it’s a great story. Had many ‘Oh! OH.’ moments as the plot is slowly laid out. Thoroughly enjoyable. I just wish the heroine wasn’t named Kelsey, and that they didn’t market this as Game of Thrones for girls. Game of Thrones for girls is Game of Thrones OK. I can ignore certain inconsistencies in the book, which to me are minor in the entire scope of things. After reading, I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that Emma Watson may be starring in the live action adaptation!

    Rating:
    [icon type="heart"][icon type="heart"][icon type="heart"][icon type="heart"][icon type="heart-o"]
    I'm not saying it's amazing, but it is enjoyable.

    [accordion_item title=”Show Summary”]Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

    On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

    Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

    But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.[/accordion_item]

  • A Friend of the Family
    A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein

    I saw this book at Fully Booked while browsing and it seemed interesting. And in a perfect example of how effective these things are- I was even more convinced to buy it after reading the adulation printed all over its cover. Well. Reading this book is ALMOST like crossing a path that gets oozier and muckier by the second and instead of going back, you keep moving through the muck anyway because you’re already in it. Almost. Because it isn’t even a fraction as exciting as all that ooze business with which at least you get out with one heck of a story. A let down.

    Rating:
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    I'm not saying it's the most terrible book ever, but I do regret buying it.
    

    [accordion_item title=”Show Summary”]Pete Dizinoff has spent his whole life working toward an adulthood that would be, by all measures, judged successful. And in nearly every way, he’s accomplished just that: A skilled and intuitive internist with a loyal following of patients, he’s built a thriving medical practice in Round Hill, New Jersey. He has a loving and devoted wife, a network of close friends, a comfortable suburban status, an impressive house, a good view from the porch. And most of all, he has a son, for whom he wants only the best. Pete and his wife, Elaine, have only one child, and Pete has pinned his hopes on Alec. They’ve afforded him every opportunity, bailed him out of close calls with the law, and, despite Alec’s lack of interest, even managed to get him accepted by a good college.

    But Pete never counted on the wild card: Laura, his best friend’s daughter. Ten years older than Alec, irresistibly beautiful, with a history so shocking that it’s never spoken of, Laura sets her sights on Alec, who falls under her spell. And with that, Pete sees his dreams for his son not just unraveling but completely destroyed. With a belief that he has only the best intentions, he sets out to derail the romance. But he could not have foreseen how, in the process, he might shatter his whole life and devastate his family.

    A riveting story of suburban tragedy in the tradition of The Ice Storm, American Beauty, and Little Children, Lauren Grodstein charts a father’s fall from grace as he struggles to save his family, his reputation, and himself.[/accordion_item]

  • Battle Royale
    Battle Royale by Koushun Takai, translated by Nathan Collins

    I really liked the movie of this which I saw way back in the early 2000’s. The book was kind of boring to me. Maybe because I had expected it to be more fast paced. Also, it didn’t help that I couldn’t keep track of who was who. During the first few paragraphs, it was fine, as the FULL NAME complete with class number is provided. Then when they started using just the first names, I could still kind of go along with it, with extensive use of the class roster list provided at the beginning of the book. Then I got to a part like this:[blockquote cite=”Koushun Takayami, BATTLE ROYALE”]Shinji raised his hand. “Teacher I have another question.
    “Again, Mimura? What is it?”[/blockquote]

    Shinji? Mimura? Dude.. Did he just.. *flipping to class roster list* Yep. They interchange using the last name and first name and unless you know all the 21 boys’ and 21 girls’ names by heart you either have to keep flipping to the class list after every sentence or just keep reading, hoping it all will make sense somehow. I did the latter and as such, I made no emotional ties with any character whatsoever. “Oh, Yukiko died? Didn’t she die a few chapters ago? Or was that Yumiko? Or wait, am I thinking of that other boy with a Y name, Yoshi .. Yohitoki or some such. Oh well..” And if I complain to my sister who read it first, “Nik I can’t keep up with this story! I don’t know who is who there are so many names!” she’d just tell me, “Ate, just remember *bleep* and *bleep* they’re the only important ones!”

    Rating: 
    [icon type="heart"][icon type="heart"][icon type="heart"][icon type="heart-o"][icon type="heart-o"]
    I hate to say this, but English names would maybe have been better.

    [accordion_item title=”Show Summary”]Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller envisions a nightmare scenario: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan—where it became a runaway best seller—Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world.[/accordion_item]
  • Crazy Rich Asians
    Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

    Ok this book is a ridiculous amount of funny. I certainly feel a bit more connection with my fellow Asians, as the Philippines seem to exist in a completely separate plane of existence from them. Although it is a bit more Singapore/HongKong-centric, with the lahs, Chinese terms and all, it doesn’t matter. Some things might seem to be complete exaggerations, as in they can’t possibly be like that! but honestly, it’s one of the funniest and most interesting peek into the modern Asian family dynamic.

    Rating: 
    [icon type="heart"][icon type="heart"][icon type="heart"][icon type="heart"][icon type="heart-o"]
    Please buy and read if you haven't already.

    [accordion_item title=”Show Summary”]Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season. When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich. [/accordion_item]

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Ah, the Name of the Wind, where do I begin.. I LOVE THIS BOOK. It is amazing. This book came at me from out of nowhere and I was completely drawn in. It is Harry-Potter-levels fun, but definitely more adult. I never say that: Harry Potter levels. So excited for the next book! I’m not saying it’s like Harry Potter. They’re nothing alike, story-wise. It’s really simple, if you’re the type of person who liked the Harry Potter books, read this book. And that’s all I’ll say about it. I find that I enjoy books more if there isn’t too much expectation or details about it, so I can form my own opinion.

Rating: 
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This is exactly the kind of book I keep hoping to stumble upon.

[accordion_item title=”Show Summary”]Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard. [/accordion_item]

The author: Crisel Eslao

Nose in book, bow in hair, pen in hand.