Why I Love Reading Books

I think it's no surprise that I love books. More than a lot of things and many people in fact. But why exactly do I love papers with ink on them so much?

As a kid, I've always liked reading even before I realized I did. I buried my nose into all kinds of books.

Mainly because I enjoyed learning, and I still do. I'm all for gaining as much knowledge as I can. I especially want to know more about subjects that fascinate me.

Being able to escape from the real world was always welcome for me. Sometimes we just need to get away, be distracted for a little while.

At some point, I wanted to write my own books. As much as I love reading other people's stories, there's nothing quite like telling your own.

Of course, I love words. That's why I'm a writer. Reading books ignited my passion for writing stories.

In elementary school, I had a much smaller vocabulary. Younger me wasn't as confident with the English language as I am now, even more so when it came to writing in it.

I can still recall a memory of myself in class. I always asked this much smarter student how to spell certain words I didn't know at the time.

Interestingly enough, my first language isn't English. I grew up in a Cantonese speaking household. Back then, my parents didn't speak much English. So for several years during my childhood, I felt more comfortable with Cantonese, my mother tongue. After all, it was what I spoke at home.

Only after reading a bunch of English books did my communication skills improve. Over the course of my elementary schooling, I saw my grades in Reading, Writing, and Oral Communication increase little by little.

Nowadays, I still crave exposure to new ideas and beliefs. I may not agree with everything, but at the very least, I get a chance to see the perspectives of others. More importantly, I try to understand.

I owe writers and authors a lot. They keep inspiring me to speak, to share.

Frankly, I have little desire to spend my money on anything that is not a good book.

The Assassin’s Blade By Sarah J. Maas | A Book Review

Title: The Assassin's Blade

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

About the book: It's a book of five novellas, serving as a prequel to the Throne of Glass series.

First impressions: I read the first novel and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The hype almost made me pass on these books. But after finishing Queen of Shadows, I very much looked forward to learning more backstory about certain characters. The Assassin's Blade begins with an interesting tale about Calaena and a pirate lord. Safe to say, I had high hopes for the rest of the book.

Summary: The stories follow Celaena, an assassin in a guild. She encounters a whole host of various people along her journey. Of course, Celaena being Celaena, she starts to defy Arobynn, her master during his missions for her.

Characters: There's a lot of different characters introduced in a short period of time. Celaena Sardothien is the female protagonist. In general, I think Maas creates likeable, complex characters readers want to root for. She also does a fine job making you dislike evil ones. I'm all for well-developed characters who actually develop.

Quote:

"If you can learn to endure pain, you can survive anything."

Conflict: Each novella features a new conflict that tends to get resolved by the end. But as Celaena acts against Arobynn's wishes, he begins to punish her.

Writing: When I first read her books, I wasn't expecting the writing to be amazing. Which is partly why I found myself surprised at how well-written her stories are.

There's a balance of world-building with story-telling. With the five novellas, I felt the plot advancing at a fast pace.

I had an idea of how the book would end because I knew some events after reading the first four books in the series. That didn't stop me from appreciating all the novellas on the whole.

A part of me wishes I had read The Assassin's Blade before the other novels. And now after finishing it, I'm tempted to reread the series from start to finish. I haven't read Empire of Storms yet, but it's on my mental to be read list. Maybe my head isn't the best place to store things…

Final thoughts: I'm biased. I'm a fan of Maas. Her books will always have a special place in my heart. I read The Assassin's Blade during a great time in my life, unlike Queen of Shadows. Enjoying good writing has a way of making my bad days better.

The ending left me feeling sad. I would've been more upset if I didn't already know what would ultimately happen. Even knowing beforehand made the last handful of chapters tough to get through. I don't know how to describe my feelings. I definitely had a subdued book hangover.

Give The Assassin's Blade a go if it sounds like something up your alley. The five novellas read very much like a novel. I would not have been mad at all if the stories were turned into full-fledged books.

Let me know what you think down below.


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Lie To Me By J. T. Ellison | A Book Review

TitleLie To Me

Author: J. T. Ellison

Genre: Thriller

About the book: I received an uncorrected proof of this standalone novel from a GoodReads giveaway.

First impressions: After reading the back cover, I immediately thought Lie to Me sounded a lot like Gone Girl. Although I enjoyed the latter, I’m glad Ellison put a unique spin on the woman goes missing narrative. I went in with high hopes because I tend to love suspenseful thrillers. The beginning didn’t disappoint. It sets up the rest of the story well in my opinion.

Summary: A woman goes missing. The husband is suspect number one in the eyes of family, friends, the media, and the police. An investigation begins, but as lies begin to come to light, the truth becomes more clear.

Characters: The author created flawed characters with problematic pasts. I liked Ethan despite his shortcomings. His wife, Sutton, disappears and leaves a note saying not to look for her. Near the end of the book, readers get more of her backstory, which is interesting to say the least. She became more likeable the more I learned about her. Ellison did a nice job with all the characters, good and bad.

Quote:

“We are afraid to die, and so we are afraid to live.”

Conflict: The characters want to get to the bottom of Sutton’s disappearance. Somehow, I figured out who was behind it all relatively early on. I had a hunch after a certain incident, and the book reaffirmed my hypothesis all the way. That being said, I wasn’t sure of this character’s motive until the very end. Wanting to learn how Ellison would resolve the loose ends made me keep turning the pages.

Writing: For the most part, the story is told in third person. The book contains different perspectives as well as a then and now glimpse into the events of the past, which offer more insight into the present. It gave me a better understanding of the main characters and what motivates them.

I’m aware it’s an uncorrected proof, but there were more errors than I anticipated. I could still make sense of everything, but the mistakes took me out of the reading experience ever so slightly. I hope the finished copy is much more polished.

The sentences are short. The chapters aren’t long. Some clock in at a couple of pages. This kept the suspense going, which I’m all for.

Final thoughts: The ending reveals a ton of information in a short amount of time, so it answers the questions posed in the beginning nicely.

I enjoyed this one. I think fans of suspenseful reads such as A Girl on the Train should consider checking out Ellison’s novel. I was worried Lie to Me would read very much like Gone Girl, but I’m glad it didn’t. Though I could predict some twists, the book had a few different turns that took me by surprise.

I’d recommend the novel to lovers of thrillers. Even if you don’t normally reach for crime or mystery on a daily basis, I think you won’t regret reaching for Lie to Me, especially when you just want to be entertained.

Lie to Me will be released on September 5, 2017. You can preorder the book here. Or if you’re patient, you can wait.

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Cradle to Cradle By William McDonough And Michael Braungart | A Book Recommendation

As the summer comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to get lost in a book or twenty.

I wanted to share one with you because sharing is caring. And I care.

The book is all about re-thinking the production of sustainable products and their impact on the future.

I’m all for spreading awareness of causes close to my heart. Sustainability is one of them. I try to be mindful of what I’m using and how my decisions today affect the earth in the future.

By working together, we can make a difference for the environment.

As of right now, more and more people are embracing or employing sustainable products. Congratulations to those companies. Kudos to the many individuals.

This is an awesome read to end your summer off on the right note. Don’t forget once you finish reading it, you can always pass your copy along to a friend. Now that’s sustainability.

Title: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Author: William McDonough and Michael Braungart

About the book: 

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things is considered the authoritative work on sustainable design and eco-effectiveness. Originally penned in 2002, the practices and philosophy are still as relevant today and are being implemented in everything from architecture to high fashion. Applying their expertise to some of the twenty-first century’s greatest challenges, McDonough and Braungart lay the groundwork for the world to adopt an environmentally-friendly policy without sacrificing profit or economic growth for the industries of tomorrow.

Where you can find the book: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple iBooks

About the author:

William McDonough’s written work has reverberated through the architecture, product design, and sustainability industries. Recognized for his beneficial design manifesto Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough has pioneered a closed loop design process and philosophy changing the way industry thinks about life cycles. His involvement in the development of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Design Framework has enabled companies across the world to implement sustainable practices and design. William McDonough received the National Design Award for his work in environmental design and his firm McDonough + Partners has developed sustainable flagships for Ford and NASA.

How you can connect with William online: Twitter | LinkedIn

Here’s to a more sustainable future!

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Afterworlds By Scott Westerfeld | A Book Review

TitleAfterworlds

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

About the book: It’s told in alternating chapters following a young writer’s journey as well as the ghost story she wrote.

First impressions: I like the concept of a novel within a novel. Unfortunately, that also sets up the likely possibility I prefer one storyline over the other.

The beginning was promising. I liked the first chapter of Darcy’s novel because of the action and suspense. The scene moves along quickly. Then the book slows down.

Summary: Darcy is a young writer who has her novel published. Her story is about a girl named Lizzie who wills herself into the afterworld during a terrorist attack. Then everyone falls in love fairly quickly.

Characters: To be honest, I enjoyed Darcy’s journey as a writer more than Lizzie’s experience with ghosts. I’m not the biggest fan of paranormal, especially when there’s romance involved. I’m even less of a fan when two characters meet and love each other immediately. Darcy and Imogen fall in love quickly. Lizzie and Yamaraj fall in love even quicker.

Quote:

“The things we write, they aren’t always really us.”

Conflict: Darcy has to navigate the city of New York as a soon to be published novelist. As a writer myself, I enjoyed and related to her struggles as a writer. She isn’t extremely confident about her writing. Who is? She has to suffer through edits and rewrites. Who doesn’t?

Lizzie deals with being able to see ghosts/spirits. In fact, one is living with her. She tries to help Mindy move on from her unfortunate past.

Writing: There are indirect references to NaNoWriMo, which makes me happy. Westerfield balances description and dialogue. Although the beginning is strong, the story slows down in the middle. The book weighs in longer than an average YA book at 600 pages. Then again, it’s basically two novels in one.

Final thoughts: I went in with high expectations because I liked Zeroes so much. That’s why I thought I’d enjoy Afterworlds a lot. I still like the premise of a novel within a novel. In general, I found the story relatable. I hope other young writers will too.

Let me know what you think about the novel in the comments down below. Have you read it? Will you?

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A Q&A About Book Genres

Questions. Answers. Book genres.

What’s your favourite genre?

That’s a tough one. As of right now, I have to say thriller. Any type. Legal, medical, even political. I’m not the biggest fan of politics, even though I took a class in high school. Shudders.

Least favourite?

Romance. Or anything remotely resembling it. Thanks but no thanks. Maybe when I have a boyfriend, I won’t roll my eyes while reading romantic scenes, but I can’t make any guarantees.

What genre(s) do you write?

Realistic fiction because contemporary young adult is all I know how to write.

Which ones do you read?

Almost everything. You name it, I probably read it, unless the book involves two main characters falling in love within the space of two pages.

What do you want to read more of?

Historical fiction hands down. I don’t read enough about history, but whenever I do, I tend to enjoy the story.

Read less of?

Chick lit romance. Duly noted.

The first genre you fell in love with?

Realistic fiction in general. I went through middle grade chapter books like a girl with nothing better to do. Because I had nothing better to do.

Any you’ve fallen out of love with?

I used to read manga and comics. I haven’t fallen out of love with them per se, but perhaps I’ve fallen more in love with other genres. Maybe I’ll pick them up again in my retirement.

The genre associated with your favourite book or author?

Young adult fantasy and science fiction. I’ve come to appreciate these books more than I used to when I was a narrow-minded kid.

The genre associated with your least favourite book or author?

I kid you not, it’s a young adult fantasy and science fiction. Huh.

The most hit or miss genre in your opinion?

This might explain my two previous answers. Fantasy and science fiction by far. The author either hits the mark or misses it completely for me.

An underrated genre?

All of them. Sports fiction specifically.

Most challenging genre to read or write?

An epic fantasy because I don’t have the chops to pull that sort of book off. Exhibit A: what’s world-building…

As always, I’d love to know your answers in the comments below. Or you could write a blog post answering the questions above.

Saving Faith By David Baldacci | A Book Review

Title: Saving Faith

Author: David Baldacci

Genre: Thriller

About the book: It’s a standalone I bought a while back.

First impressions: I’ve read some of Baldacci’s novels in the past, so I had an idea of what to expect. The author tends to start off with a scene that sets up the rest of the story. I didn’t know what was going on, which made me want to find out more.

Summary: An assassination attempt goes wrong. An FBI agent dies. Characters run to save their lives.

Characters: It took me a while to get behind some of the characters. By the end, I found myself rooting for the good guys of course, especially Lee Adams, a private investigator. Baldacci does a good job creating likeable and unlikeable characters as well. He’s great at making flawed characters. Everyone is imperfect in some way with either a problematic past, a sticky situation, or both. But because we’re dealing with fiction, the characters’ traits can obviously be exaggerated.

Quote:

“So maybe I do what I do because the sum of the world’s tragedies outweighs its happiness.”

Conflict: Good versus bad. More specifically a CIA vs. FBI tale.

Writing: I’ve read Zero Day, The Forgotten, The Escape, Last Man Standing, The Guilty, and The Winner by Baldacci. He’s written some great books. Saving Faith is good but not the best one in my opinion.

It’s still an entertaining, fun read. Probably not the most realistic, however. He tells an interesting story by adding enough suspense to keep you turning the pages. 

All in all, the sentences are short and the chapters aren’t too long. So it makes for a fast, enjoyable reading experience.

Final thoughts: I will say I liked the ending (last 100 pages or so) the most. It ties up a lot of loose ends while answering most of the questions posed throughout the novel.

If you’re looking for a summer thriller, be sure to check out Saving Faith if you haven’t done so already.

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Completing The 30 Books Challenge

1. A book you love:

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

I love this book with all my heart. And I’m trying to make other people love it too.

2. A book you can’t forget:

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

My grade five teacher recommended it to me. Bless her for doing so.

3. A book that motivated you:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

King makes me want to be a better writer.

4. A book that made you think about life:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

It’s thought-provoking.

5. A book with a colour in its title:

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I adore Brown and his brain.

6. A book with a number in its title:

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

I had to read it for school, but I liked the modernized zombie tale.

7. A book everyone needs to read:

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Timeless classic. What more can I say?

8. A book that was recommended to you:

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

A good friend of mine made me pick this one up.

9. A book you didn’t expect to like as much as you did:

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Because of the hype surrounding Maas and her work, I thought I wasn’t going to like her novels. But I enjoyed ToG so very much.

10. A book that made you cry:

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

It didn’t directly make me cry, but I was holding the book while I cried. Does that count?

11. A book that reminds you of your childhood:

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I was a naïve child.

12. A book you have reread or would reread:

Thirst No. 4 by Christopher Pike

I reread the fourth book prior to reading the fifth in order to jog my memory. The second read through was just as good, if not even better than the first.

13. A book that was turned into a movie:

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I read the book before I watched the movie. If you know me at all, you know I’m firmly in the camp that the book was obviously better.

14. A book you wish was turned into a movie or TV show:

The Escape by David Baldacci

This needs to be made into a movie.

15. A book you couldn’t put down:

Endgame: The Calling by James Frey

Action-packed fun.

16. A book that kept you up at night:

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I remember finishing the novel late at night and being blown away by the ending.

17. A book you travelled with:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

I carried the novel in my bag with a water bottle I didn’t close properly. Safe to say water and paper don’t mix unless you’re painting with watercolours.

18. A book you wanted to toss across the room:

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Because of how it ends.

19. A book you received as a gift:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

From my one and only older brother. Thanks.

20. A book you gave or would give as a gift:

The Elements of Style by E. B. White and William Strunk Jr.

I would give it as a gift, especially to someone who likes writing.

21. A book you think is underrated:

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

I don’t see or hear many people talk about Norris and her books.

22. A book that lived up to its hype:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I didn’t think it would, but it did.

23. A book that broke your heart:

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

It was my first Picoult novel. I’m happy to say it was not the last. I really felt for the characters in this one.

24. A book that restored your faith in humanity:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Young, awesome characters tend to restore my faith.

25. A book with a pretty cover:

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

It’s my aesthetic.

26. A book that reminds you of summer:

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The novel takes place in the summer.

27. A book that brings back good memories:

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Technically it’s a play I performed with some of my best friends in high school.

28. A book that makes you happy:

Nevermore by James Patterson

I enjoyed the entire series.

29. A book you will never get tired of talking about:

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I could go on and on about this gem.

30. A book you wish you wrote:

Carrie by Stephen King

If I had to be honest, I wish I wrote every novel King wrote. Carrie is no exception.


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Do Ask, Do Tell By Bill Boushka | A Book Review

Title: Do Ask, Do Tell: Speech Is a Fundamental Right; Being Listened to Is a Privilege

Author: Bill Boushka

Genre: Nonfiction (politics) & Fiction (stories)

About the book: It’s the third installment in Boushka’s “Do Ask, Do Tell” series, which is self-published. He divides the book into two parts. The first contains nonfiction essays about various issues such as individualism and responsibility, especially in regards to homosexuality, as Boushka identifies as a gay man. Following the essays are pictures of the author, his parents, etc. The second part consists of short stories loosely based on his experience in the military as well as events and encounters that occur during road trips. The fictional pieces reflect the ideas previously explored in his essays. I received a copy of the book from a Goodreads giveaway. 

First impressions: I wasn’t sure whether I would like it or not, since I don’t normally read a ton of nonfiction, especially autobiographical accounts. Off the bat, I noticed there were a lot of quoted words and phrases. Even early on, I found the nonfiction chapters felt repetitive, even redundant, since he discusses the same ideas repeatedly.

Summary: Boushka writes about his life growing up, exploring various political and social issues in both the essays and stories. He discusses his time in university and the military. It goes on to discuss what he learned about himself as well as society when he has to take care of his mother. The short fictional pieces have related themes to his nonfiction writing. There’s one fictionalizing his efforts in Basic Combat Training. The other two follow characters on road trips across the country, the first considering the effects of strip-mining for coal while the second involves the protagonist coming home.

Quote:

“Humanities are the hope of the world.”

Writing: It didn’t surprise me that I spotted some grammatical mistakes and spelling errors. I also didn’t understand some of the words and acronyms used, which is more my problem than his, although I later realized he included a glossary in the back of the book. Even when the acronyms were explained, however, I tended to forget what they stood for. At times, the writing was dense and academic. But the author isn’t afraid to state his opinions. He offers a ton of details about his personal history, though I didn’t think they were all needed. 

Final thoughts: I can’t say this book will appeal to everyone, but it’s an eye opening look into politics and policies, especially as it pertains to homosexuals. I learned a good deal. I think others looking for a challenging read in many regards would too. 

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Legend By Marie Lu | A Book Review

Title: Legend

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Dystopian Young Adult

About the book: Legend is the first novel in a trilogy. Prodigy and Champion are the second and third books.

First impressions: I had high hopes for the book. It’s shorter than I thought at about 300 pages, especially considering the genre. Part of the reason why I purchased Legend was because my friend likes Lu. I’ve also been meaning to read some of her work, since I see pictures of her books online all the time. At the outset, I think the story started off promising. It had potential to be so much more, though.

Summary: The nation is at war. A female prodigy and a male criminal cross paths after said female’s brother gets murdered and said male becomes a suspect. But not everything is as it seems.

Characters: The novel is told in first person point of view, both Day’s and June’s. As much as I enjoy books told in alternating viewpoints, I tend to like reading one side over the other. So I found myself looking forward to hearing Day’s side of the story more, as he’s the wanted criminal people are after, despite the fact he isn’t an evil or terrible guy. That said, I wanted more character development from everyone, not just the main characters but the secondary ones as well. Of course, there’s some romance between the main characters, and their relationship blossoms quicker than I wanted for their feelings to be believable. At least, they don’t fall in love right away. In fact, for about half the book, June thinks Day murdered her brother, Metias, so she seeks to avenge his death by bringing Day in. Overall, both characters are likeable, even quite similar. They’re motivated by different reasons, yet ultimately the two are just trying to do what they think is right.

Quote:

“Logic will save you when nothing else will.”

Conflict: Metias is murdered and Day is suspected of killing him. But as Day tries to save his family and June tries to catch the most wanted criminal in the country, both teens start to uncover the truth behind what their country is really up to. Although we don’t get a ton of answers in this novel, I assume we’ll learn more about the secrets and lies the country’s government is keeping as the series goes on.

Writing: While the story is well-written, I felt like the book lacked in world building. I wish Lu included more description about people or places. The story advanced at a good pace, but I found myself anticipating what would happen next and being right. So some surprising twists or turns would have been nice. The action scenes (thinks chases and fights) are great, but I didn’t get a good enough sense of where things were taking place.

Final thoughts: Even though I found Legend predictable at times, it’s still a fun, quick YA read. I tend to enjoy dystopian stories and this wasn’t a bad one. Not the best I’ve ever read but still worth checking out.

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