So this happened…

After literally half a year of debating with myself, I finally bought a Kindle Paperwhite! I’ve put it off for so long that I had to take a friend with me to my local Officeworks so I wouldn’t back out. If I had gone on my own, I would’ve found reasons not to buy it. Having a friend with me meant that I felt obliged to buy it so that I wasn’t wasting her time by dragging her around with me. 😛

It’s my first ever e-reader and I’m pretty darn excited about it. I was actually about to get the Voyage (the new Oasis wasn’t even an option) but I figured there wasn’t much of a difference between it and the Paperwhite to justify the extra cost, plus I’m definitely still going to use physical books more often. It’s just nice to know I can keep hundreds of books in a small device for when I travel. I also want to get more into netgalley and my experience with reading e-books on my phone wasn’t that great.

On the Kindle, I’m currently reading The Girl in the Box series by Robert J. Crane which is a free set. Still need to recover from the purchase. Heh.


Do you own an e-reader? Do you prefer physical copies or e-books?

 

The book peek

The other day a man sat near me in the break room holding a book. Naturally, as inconspicuously as I could, I tried to look over at what he was reading. Not inconspicuously enough, because a co-worker sitting in front of me asked me what I was doing. Apparently my eyes looked like they were going to disappear into the side of my head. 😂

I can’t be the only one, right? Whenever I spot someone in my vicinity with a book in their hands, I try to take a peek at what they’re reading. Name a method — I’ve probably done it. The three that I’ve used commonly are:

THE TRAFFIC CONGESTOR

I’m that person who’s impeding the flow of pedestrian traffic because I’ve slowed down trying to take a peek at a passers-by’s book. More often than not, this happens when I’m taking public transport which is the best place to catch another book-lover other than the book store, library, or park. During peak hour, it’ll be the thing that prevents me from getting a seat because I was too focused on my mission lol. The people around me are also probably thinking along these lines:

school college waiting slow finals


THE ASSIST

reactiongifs spy spying binoculars

I have terrible eyesight even with my glasses, but if there’s a friend around and a book that’s too distant to be peeked at, I’ll ask them to have a look. My close friends are used to this request already, so I don’t get any weird looks. Shout out to you guys. You’re the real MVPs.


THE SCREW IT

I’m quite the introvert, but nothing gets me out of my shell like the sight of someone reading. I can’t help but feel an automatic connection with them. Like: yes, friend! Book friend! Bless you, friend! It’s like I’m a foreigner in a strange land who’s spotted someone of my race. Sometimes the urge to know just burns so deep I can’t help but act on it, so five times out of ten, if the person is near me, I’ll strike up a conversation with them about the book they’re reading. Because I understand the pain of being bothered mid-read, I’ll usually keep it short, but every now and then it blossoms into a lovely conversation about books.

friends books the middle axl heck brick heck

It happened quite recently actually, in the same break room. I’d noticed this person come in with the same book for a couple of weeks now. Started a conversation with him. Turns out he was reading We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler a.k.a Lemony Snicket and we ended up sharing our memories of reading A Series of Unfortunate events. It’s always fun connecting with a stranger over similar interests!


My question is: Are you guilty of the book peek?

“People still go to libraries?”

So there I was, reading during my hour break at work, when my boss looked over at the book I was reading. He noticed the library barcode on the front cover and, surprised, ask me the question: “People still go to libraries?”

My immediate response was confusion. For some reason, in that space of a second when the words registered in my brain, I thought to myself, well, duh. Where else would you find books? Of course, bookstore, was being whispered in the back of my head, but I couldn’t — can’t — fathom the thought of people not going to the library. Going to the library every other weekend is such an integral part of my life. I guess it’s the same way I feel about reading in general. Like, what else are people supposed to do for fun?

With all these thoughts racing in my head, all I could really say was: “Yes.”

Arthur
Truer words have never been spoken.

Recently, I’ve noticed a trend. Going to the bookstore seems to be more acceptable — for lack of better description — than going to the library. If you go to a bookstore, you’ll look cool and ~cultured~, but if you go to the library, you’re seen in a more nerdy/geeky light. I literally got given a “wow, that’s weird” look from a reader (albeit one who doesn’t read as often as they used to) when I told them that I like to borrow books first. If I really like it, I’ll buy it to put on my shelf so I can reread it again. I guess it’s that part of me that wants to make sure my money is going to something that I like instead of a book having to join my pile of spontaneous, not-so-loved purchases.

Maybe I’m being a little defensive. I guess as times are changing, when everything is readily available at our fingertips, libraries can seem a little redundant.

But I mean, c’mon guys! Pretty much the only difference between a bookstore and a library  is that the latter is free. FREE BOOKS. Who doesn’t love free books? Don’t even get me started on the smell. It’s a truly magical experience. 😛 It just rubs me the wrong way when people who read (my boss included. He’s mentioned a few times that he reads books.) regard library-goers like an alien species.


Do you exclusively buy books without having first read them? Or do you borrow before you buy? What’s your style?

Hello, 2016!

If there’s anything I learned in 2015, it’s that I’m not very good at running a blog. I’ll make promises and schedules, but never stick to them, which resulted in almost half of year of, well, nothing. Of course, there’s the full-time job to blame (which started around August) which takes up a lot of my energy especially due to the nature of the work and the hours I do. My spare time is spent lazing around because I’m too tired to do anything, and even the thought of reading sounded like a chore.

I’m not going to make promises for this blog for this new year, but I do want to start reading again. I miss being excited over characters and stories and writing my thoughts on them. Which is why I went to the library today for my first haul of 2016.

First 2016 Library Book Haul
I may have gotten too excited…

From top to bottom:

  1. Seven Second Delay, Tom Easton
  2. Winter Be My Shield, Jo Spurrier
  3. Vision In Silver, Anne Bishop
  4. Conqueror’s Moon, Julian May
  5. Malice, John Gwynne

I think I might start with Vision in Silver because I’m 100% guaranteed to enjoy it. Hopefully it’ll reignite that desire to read so that I can move on to others.

Anyway… happy 2016, everyone, and happy reading! 🙂

It’s been a while!

I’ll be honest with you, blogging got tiring and reading became a job instead of a hobby.  I pushed through books just to make it to my review deadline which really took the fun out of it. I felt like if I didn’t post regularly, there was no point in having this blog at all, which was stupid. I mean, it’s not like I’m doing this for money.

In the past month that I’ve been gone, I haven’t finished any novels. I’d go through a few dozen pages, and the moment I found something I didn’t like about it, no matter how small, I’d put it down. It’s most likely because I broke my habit of reading so it’s just a matter of starting back up again slowly.

Anyway, after that little internet/blogging detox, I am back! I don’t have anything specifically planned, but I have noticed I’ve been tagged in a few things so I’ll probably do those first, and then see how things go.

 

 

How do you like your books?

My books are my precious children. I cover them with clear adhesive wrap like an overprotective mother. When I read them, I make sure my hands are clean, refrain from eating, and try not to crease the spine too much. You could say I’m a tad obsessive. But who isn’t? I know plenty of book lovers, myself included, who’d never let someone borrow their books for fear that it’ll come back damaged. Or even just the simple fear of seeing a dog eared page. *shudders*

But I also love the look of used and battered book. You can tell it’s well-loved and well-read (unless this look was achieved by being dropped from a twenty storey building). If you see this book in the library, you know that many must have opened the cover, flipped through it’s pages, and left the world for hours as they stepped into the story. On my own shelf, the Goblet of Fire and the Order of the Phoenix fit this description, as they captured my imagination when I was young. I used to read those books at least twice a year and never got sick of them. When I pick them up now and look at their creased spines, covers bent at the corners, and yellowing pages, I get vivid memories of those younger times.

But now, for some reason, while I love the look and feel of a well-read book, I can’t bring myself to do that to my own anymore. Of course, they’ll get to that stage over time, but not yet! Not right now. I don’t know what it is. Sometimes I feel like maybe I love them less because how many times they’ve been read doesn’t show, like the books on my shelves are just trophies on display. Sometimes, it seems a little impersonal. I remember Scott Westerfeld saying how he loved it when he signs books that look well-read and are filled with little notes and post-its. Do it mean I love my books less? Of course not!


How do you like your books?

Fear of the Unread

There was no book review yesterday because… 1) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater failed to keep me hooked, and 2) I have a fear of the unread.

To address the first: I’m not saying it was a bad book. I can definitely see why people loved it. The characters are interesting and vivid, and the writing is totally my style. It’s just that the plot was taking too long for my liking. I could’ve easily picked up another book and made time for a review but I just couldn’t. I didn’t read a thing for three days, which leads me to point number two.

I have a fear of the unread. The Raven Boys sat beside my pillow, as all my current-reads do, and refused to be placed back on my bookshelf. I was crippled by the fear that if I made a definite decision to give up, I would be missing out on something amazing. I have trudged through books just like it and finished on the other side feeling so grateful that I’d given it a shot. I mean, it’s not like I choose novels with a boring-sounding premise. But I am a firm believer in committed relationships, and for some reason, this extends to books. One book at a time. Can’t move on unless I’m done with it. Hence why I didn’t read a thing for three days. I was torn.

But I did it! I conquered my fear! I thought, “I deserve better!” because I do, and picked up a new book. As much as it pains me to say, I have to accept that there aren’t enough days in my lifetime to read all the books in the world. There will be stories I will never read and there will be those that won’t interest me. But there will also be those that will keep me invested, happy, excited, and [insert other emotions here]. Reading should be fun and entertaining. Those are the stories I should stick with.*

Is there anyone out there who has this fear? Is there even an actual word for it?

This is me trying to convince myself it’s okay to not like a book and not finish it because I’m still in kind-of-shock that I gave up on one. I’m working on it. 😛

Doughnuts and Super Spies!

It’s time for another round of author appreciation. Today, I’ll be talking about the two authors whose books I adored when I was nine years old, in Year 4. The title of this post will make sense later on. First up:

ODO HIRSCH

About the Author:

Odo Hirsch is the pen name of David Kausman, an Australia author of children’s books. He was born in Melbourne, where he trained to be a doctor, but moved to London, where he currently lives.

After working as a doctor in both Melbourne and London, he joined Amnesty International, where he reported on torture victims and examined hospital conditions in Eastern Europe. After doing a master’s degree in political thought at Cambridge University, he joined McKinsey Consulting in 1997. This was when his first novel for children, Antonio S and the Mystery of Theodore Guzman, was published. His other books include Bartlett and the Ice Voyage, which won the Blue Peter Book Award. His novels have been shortlisted many times for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards.

Year 4 was such a vivid year. Of all the years in Primary School, it’s probably the one I remember the most and that was in part due to this man and the memories of his series, Hazel Green. Boy, I loved this series so much and revisiting the memories associated with these books only confirms that I still do. It showed me, for the first time, what it meant for a book to “come alive”.

Summary of the first book >

Hazel Green is a free spirit – independent, mischievous and charming. She lives on the 12th floor of the grand old Moodey Building. Once a year, on Frogg Day, the whole city celebrates with a fabulous parade, and Hazel is determined that the children of her building will join in. But some of the grown-ups want to keep them out – especially troublesome Hazel. And then Hazel is falsely accused of stealing. But nothing troubles Hazel for long. With her humour and resourcefulness – and unexpected help from a reclusive boy called the Yak – she wins everyone around.

His writing was so vivid that, to this day, I still remember the actual smellssounds and tastes I experienced while reading these books. Looking at the cover, the first thing that comes to my mind is doughnuts. Hazel Green loved pastries and all four books never go without descriptions of eclairs and croissants and tarts and a range of other baked goods because the local baker would always offer her free samples. I remember having cravings for sweet things every time I read these books, and in those cravings, I discovered the existence of Krispy Kreme. It was like the Holy Grail of my childhood. (By extension, I blame that for my addiction to nutella.)

It was also the first time I was exposed to a complex character. Hazel Green is humorous, mischievous and smart, and while she’s young, she also possess an adult-like wisdom. Finishing the books was a strange experience because underneath that post-read joy and excitement was a sense of solemnity. I didn’t understand it then, but now I see it as my younger-self learning something about the Real World, through Hazel. In my search for summaries and information to put in this post, I also found a short excerpt that brought a flood of memories about her:

“Sometimes you are really terrible, Hazel Green.”

Good, thought Hazel. Everyone should be terrible sometimes.

I mean, what a character! She really left an impression on me. I need to revisit these books again and maybe have a cry.

Thank you, Mr. Hirsch, for a vivid childhood, for the life-lessons I learned without realising it, for engaging my senses. Though I guess I should also blame you for my sugar addiction…

More than words?

Apologies if this song is now stuck in your head after reading the title.

Apologies if it wasn’t stuck in your head because you didn’t understand the reference, and now is, after clicking the video. Heh.

Anyway, this morning, my friend I were talking about the dreams we had last night and then the conversation turned to a discussion about books. As it does. In particular, we talked about the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi and how we both could never finish it because the writing put us off. I barely managed to get through the first few chapters of the second book, while my friend managed to get to the end of the same book.

I think anyone who’s read the books will understand what I mean about the writing. I distinctly remember reading the protagonist describing the love interest’s eyes and saying how she’d “like to cry into them”, and me thinking, “wtf.” I guess it was supposed to highlight their beauty and emphasise her attraction to him but all it did was make me grimace.  There were moments of brilliance and there were moments of ridiculousness, but in the end, it was metaphor overload. It got me thinking about the thing that keeps readers hooked on a book.

With Shatter Me, I thought the premise had a lot going for it, but the writing put me off. I’ve had instances where the reverse is true and the writing is “okay” but I’ve locked myself in my room, grudgingly eaten meals and stayed up until the early morning just to finish it. In those instances, it was the plot and the themes and the characters that shone, allowing me to overlook the writing. I would describe that reading sensation as the words melting away from the page to reveal the images.

So my question is:

 

What keeps you hooked on a book?

 Or, in reference to the title of this blog:

What keeps you booked?

😉

Winter is here!

Condensation on my window.

I woke up with a runny nose, and to a fogged up window which is a good a sign as any.

Stepped outside to get a good dose of the sun and marveled at how beautiful and blue the sky looked. (Seriously, look at it. ^) There were also two pigeons perched on our now bare nectarine tree, enjoying the nice morning, but when I tried to take a picture of them they flew away. Boo. 😦

Anyway, onto blogging business! Winter is the perfect time for reading so I’ve decided to participate in the Winter Reading Challenge formed by the Aussie Reader’s group on Goodreads. The challenge is below:

1… Spell it Out! Read 6 books whose titles spell out WINTER. Don’t count the, a, and an.

2… Read a NEW RELEASE which is published in JUNE, JULY or AUGUST 2015

3… For International Children’s Day choose a YOUNG ADULT title by an AUSSIE author

4… Choose a book written by an AUSSIE author who is independently published – an AUSSIE INDIE AUTHOR

5… From your OWNED TBR books choose one SPECULATIVE FICTION, one HISTORICAL FICTION and one MYSTERY for JUNE, JULY and AUGUST (to be read in your month of choice!)

I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to complete the challenge as I’ve got loads of other books on my TBR list, but I’ll give it a shot. It’d be a good chance for me to dig into more books written by Aussie writers — something I haven’t done enough of.

Winter, for me, is also the time for reminiscing, so I’ve decided to start a new thing where I look back at the books that hold a special place in my heart. Books that changed me and shaped me.  They’ll be split up by the three different sections of my life so far:

  1. JUNE – Primary school
  2. JULY – High School
  3. AUGUST – University

I’m predicting it’ll be a fun and emotional ride, especially for the books in my earlier years. I’ve decided to post these on Fridays instead of the usual book review because I realised I’m unable to commit to posting two (the other on Monday) per week. I may still post a review on Fridays depending on my schedule.

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Happy winter (or summer) and happy reading!