Thursday, December 22, 2016

Literary Tourism in NYC

From bookstores to libraries to historical writers' homes, New York City is a trove of literary treasures for the avid reader. I hope to visit and document many of these hidden gems but in the mean time I wanted to share some already existing resources for anyone traveling to NYC (or locals!) who want to explore the city's bookish history. Enjoy!

Bookwitty: A Tour of Literary New York

DK A Book-lover's Guide to New York City

Buzzfeed: The Book Lover's Guide to the Big Apple

Lonely Planet: 10 Great Literary Bars in New York City 

NYT: A Critic's Tour of Literary Manhattan 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


I can't remember a time in my childhood that I didn't have my nose stuck in a book, although I didn't have a grasp of the differences in genres (book to me were either fiction or non-fiction) I tended to gravitate and especially love books with magic, adventures, and preferably dragons. In retrospect, these books were the foundation of a love of fantasy that made me the ring-bearing, wand-wielding, dragon-riding nerd I am today.

The problem with diving into fantasy, and a factor that can intimidate curious first-timers and veteran readers alike is the sheet volume of series, spinoffs, novellas and side works that a single universe or author can have. Where do I start? In what order do I read them them? Will I miss out on important information if I don't read the e-novel prequel?

I've decided to tackle my giant, convoluted fantasy TBR pile like I approach any task: with a list. My goal is to read an entire fantasy series each year in publication order starting with Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere Universe.

Brandon Sanderson is an incredibly prolific American fantasy author mostly known for his Mistborn series and for finishing Robert Jordan's classic Wheel of Time series after the author's death. Typically publishing 1 or 2 books per year since the debut of his first novel Elantris in 2005, Sanderson's growing oeuvre includes children's and YA books as well as his fantasy books but for me his most intriguing project is the Cosmere.

Broadly speaking, the Cosmere is Sanderson's fictional universe in which many of his standalone novels and series are set. Each series and novel can be read independently without missing out on anything but reading the books together reveals some crossover characters, a common mythology to all the books and some fun Easter eggs for the diligent reader.

#YearofCosmere was originally created as a 2015 booktube read-a-long by the wonderful Sanaa of InkBonesBooks (one of my favorite booktube channels!) to tackle all of the Cosmere books in a year. Each book in the Universe is accompanied by a thoughtful warp-up by a different booktuber. I have appropriated her great idea and decided to follow suit albeit two years late. My plan is to read each book in the Cosmere (2 more are scheduled for publication in 2017!) in publication order and review them (list is below). I will also include Sanaa's Original video and the youtube wrap-ups for each book.

TitlePublication YearSeries
Elantris2005Elantris #1
The Hope of Elantris2006Elantris #1.5
Mistborn: The Final Empire2006Mistborn (Era1) #1
The Well of Asencion 2007Mistborn (Era1) #2
The Hero of Ages2008Mistborn (Era1) #3
The Way of Kings2010Stormlight Archives #1
The Alloy of Law2011Mistborn (Era2) #1
The Emperor's Soul 2012Short work
Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell2013Dangerous Women Anthology
Words of Radience2014Stormlight Archives #2
Sixth of the Dusk2014Shadows Beneath Anthology
Shadows of Self2015Mistborn (Era2) #2
The Bands of Mourning2016Mistborn (Era2) #3
Mistborn: Secret History2016Mistborn (Era1) #3.5
White Sand Vol 12016White sand #1
Arcanum Unbounded2016Anthology
Edgedancer2016The Stormlight Archive #2.5
Oathbringer2017The Stormlight Archive #3
White Sand Vol 22017White sand #2

2017: Back to the Classics Challenge

I am so excited to try my hand at the 2017: Back to the Classics Challenge! This 2017 reading challenge created and hosted by the lovely Karen at Karen's Books and Chocolate, is designed to get you reading more classics! This is something I've been wanting to add back into my reading life after college, so now here's my chance!

Enjoying a books and Greek coffee in Astoria

The challenge is to read 12 classics following certain criteria in 2017, people who complete part or all of the challenge are entered into a raffle for a prize! I definitely recommend taking a look at her challenge rules which are more detailed if you are interested in participating along (in the link above) or just check out her blog which has great classics reviews and recommendations!

Without further ado, here is my TBR for each of the challenges!
Let me know what you think? Have you read any on the list before?

I will be writing non-spoiler reviews of each book which I will link below as I finish each one. Reviews will include fun 'bonus' materials for each book so definitely check them out!

1.  A 19th Century Classic 
Huckleberry Finn
2.  A 20th Century Classic 

The House of Mirth
3.  A classic by a woman author

Pride and Prejudice
4.  A classic in translation.

Arabian Nights
5.  A classic published before 1800

The Aeneid
An romance classic.

Jane Eyre
7.  A Gothic or horror classic. 
8.  A classic with a number in the title.

20,000 Leagues under the Sea
9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  

The Wind in the Willows
10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit.
11. An award-winning classic.

Gone With the Wind (Pulitzer Prize)
12. A Russian Classic.  
Anna Karenina


52 Book Goodreads Challenge

2016 was the first year that I set and attempted a Goodreads challenge and it changed my reading life. I don't know why I hadn't attempted it earlier since my type-A-ness loves a good goal and check list.You can set your Goodreads challenge to however many books you want to read in a year and then track the books you are currently reading and have completed to see how you are progressing towards that goal.

I love it because you get to define what a successful reading year means to you. Wanna shoot for 200 books read this year? Awesome. Only have time for 10? that's great too, and you can adjust your reading goal as you go. Ultimately it's more a tool for you to keep track of what you read than a competition.

Enjoying a hot latte and on a cold winter day at Joe's Coffee

Having a complete record of what I read this year was really enlightening. It confirmed some of the reading habits I thought I had (I read a TON of mysteries) and surprised me in other ways (I read more non-fiction than I thought I had). Having the hard data in front of me allowed me to reflect on my habits as a reader and set goals in a more informed way.

This year a friend has proposed a new Goodreads challenge for 2017: 52 books (or about 1 per week) with the criteria that the books must be over 200 pages and must not include graphic novels or poetry. I say challenge accepted! I'll be keeping my track of my progress both on my Goodreads page and on this blog:

Book #1: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Book #2: Pendulum by Andy Hamdy
Book #3: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Book #4: The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray
Book #5: Through the Grind by Cleo Coyle
Book #6: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Book #7: The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking


Do you have any reading goals for 2017?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New Years READ-solutions: 2017 Reading Goals!

2016 was the year of getting settled in New York and attempting to adult. Now that I know my uptown from downtown and my co-payments from my deductibles, it's time to go bigger and better!

As I mentioned in my 2016 Wrap up, this was my first year without assigned readings or classes to restrict my reading, so I basically I just read voraciously without rhyme or reason or planning apart from setting my Goodreads challenge to 50 books to make up for lost time.

This year I want to be more guided and thoughtful as to the goals and reading activities that I set for myself. This includes both personal reading challenges and bookish social media activities. This was the first year that I consistently used Goodreads to track what I was reading, and the ability to look back on my yearly reading record was super rewarding to a data-nerd like me.  So I've come up with a couple of READ-solutions to guide my 2017 reading and they are:


52 Book Goodreads Challenge


Back to the Classics: 2017

Bookish Social Media/Community

Be consistent with blog and Instagram posts.

Attend 3 big literary events this year and blog about them

Get involved in a bookish volunteer opportunity

Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 Wrap Up: A Year in Books

Screen shot taken before finishing book #63
2016 was my first full year out of college where my reading has not been restricted by school work and as a result I went a little berserk in my reading (and buying) of books to make up for lost time. I set my Goodreads goal to 50 and cleared it by a long shot (I'm hoping to add to the margin in these last couple of weeks!) I did not however follow any sort of plan or guidelines except for going on a bit of an Agatha Christie binge. Basically, I  read whatever I felt like and the results were interesting. Here is the breakdown of the books I read in 2016 (as of 12/19/2016):

Total Books read: 63
Total Pages: 18,461

Longest book: The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
Shortest book: We Should all be Feminists by

 As the new year approaches and I plan my New Years bookish resolutions, I was thinking about structuring my reading with more thought, including joining a crime-fiction book club, and attempting to complete 3 different bookish challenges. More to come on my bookish resolutions! But in the mean time, do you make reading resolutions? Do you go with the flow or follow a TBR list?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Try the Penguin Book Recommendation Hotline!

So the (Judeo-Christian) holiday season is around the corner and many us are scrambling to find the right book for our loved-ones. Fear no more! The Penguin Hotline is here.

Yes, that's right, Penguin Random House, one of the big 5 publishers has set up a hotline form to help you find the right book for that special someone. You input their interests and voila! A few days later you get personalized recommendations in your inbox!

Out of curiosity, I requested a recommendation for a friend to see how accurate (i.e. if they would like the suggestions offered) the hotline would be, I'm still waiting on the results but if you would like to try the hotline for yourself or for a friend you can try it out here:

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Narrating my first NYC booksigning: PHDeath by James Carse

A couple of weeks ago I was perusing the weekly e-newsletter from one of my favorite indie bookstores, The Mysterious Bookstore (a heaven for any mystery/crime/thriller fan!) when the title of a book caught my eye: PhDeath. As someone who has spent the majority of their life in and around Higher Ed this piqued my interest and I clicked on the link to read the synopsis:

 In a famous University, in a famous city by a famous square, the Deans dies in a strange and bizarre way with apparently no killer around. 2 hours before his death, the University community received a puzzle via email, a puzzle that Professor Carmody, renowned scholar of Rhetoric realizes is linked to the murder. Soon more puzzles and more corpses start to appear, the anonymous killer, dubbed 'the puzzler' seams to be leaving a trail that leads to hidden, dark secrets in the University's very fabric.

Universities + Death + Puzzles? Ahmegawdineeddis! I ran (well, took the subway) to the bookstore where I was informed that they did not have the book in store (what!?) but that there would be a launch event next week and that the author would be there and I could possibly get my booked signed. In a huff, I shuffled around the store for half an hour and bought 3 books I was not planning to buy (that'll show them!). I promptly returned on the day of the launch event at 6:00pm (the event started at 6:30pm) this was after spending 45 minutes at a Pret a Manger reading beforehand to kill time so I wouldn't be too weird for showing up super early.

The event space was cozy with a few chairs and sofas set up and grown up refreshments placed on a little table to the side (i.e. wine and cheese and olives) There were one or two people sitting but mostly the shop was empty. Should I sit down? Would I look to eager if I claimed a seat this early? Who was I trying to prove a point to anyways? I decided to browse the bookstore for a bit to look casual. I was done much faster than I expected (the store is only one room) so I ended up sitting down with four books to skim while I waited for the event to start with still plenty of time to spare.

A couple of minutes later, I pulled my eyes away from one of the books and glanced around the room; it was decidedly fuller and my strange irrational fear that I would be the only one to show up and the author would be sad vanished. I also noticed that I was by far the youngest person in the room most people being of the be-spectacled and be-tweed variety (they were mostly colleagues and students of the author/retired emeritus professor later learned). One lady, who appeared to be in her 50's turned in her seat which was a row in front of mine and smiled at me. "So how did you learn about this event?" she asked. I mentioned the newsletter and gushed about being intrigued by the plot. She looked at me like I was a little off in the head (who reads bookstore's newsletters I could imagine was the though running through her head). I looked down at my lap, embarrassed. "So what about you?" I asked after a slightly too-long pause.
"I was his student when I was an undergraduate. I got an email"
Oh, "that's nice" I said with a smile. We chatted a bit about the university before she turned towards a newly arrived group of people all of whom seemed to know each other from back in the good old days.

Eventually, the author showed up. By this point no chairs were empty and people were filling up the aisles. The author was a retired professor of religion at the University after which he had modeled the one in his book. He talked about the inception of the book, his love of puzzles, Greek philosophy and read some of his favorite passages. He spoke in a comfortable and humorous manner, his 30+ years of lecturing experience evident in the way that he held the crowds' attention with witty and thoughtful remarks. It was like watching what I imagined Robert Langdon would be like if he ever got a chance to retire and wasn't offed in one of his crazy adventures.

The author ended with a searing critique of Higher Ed that gave me all the feels and pulled a heavy round of applause from the audience. After a few words from the editor and the publicists the crowd broke off into smaller groups, chatting and getting refreshments. Several people approached the author and started a conversation. I stood around nervously for a while. Could I get my book signed? I wanted him to sign my book but no one had said if we could. Was it ok? I clutched my book tightly with my index finger wedged between the dedication page and the title page in case I had an opportunity of getting it signed. I waited and watched. Someone else had asked for a signature, it was ok! I approached and gave him my name. I made some comment about higher ed and he answered with a non-committal response. Then my brain went dry, I thanked him and fled.

On the subway, I sat there, gripping my newly signed book and hyperventilating. Overall it was a great experience although I wished I could have acted more like a normal human being and less like a nervous wreck. Something about meeting the author of a book reverts me to 15 year old fan girl era. Like that one time I nearly had a mental melt down when Alexander Chee responded to a post I tagged him on in Instagram *swoon*


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Unboxing: Book of the Month November Box Review

It's here!! We'll it's been here for a while, but I'm just now getting round to posting about it. Here is my first ever Book of the Month box! About a week ago I wrote about subscribing to the 3 month service. This is a monthly book subscription service where a panel of judges plus one guest judge pick 5 new hardcover releases that came out the previous month. You choose which book you want or you can choose to skip that month if none of the books appeal to you. You are effectively getting access to brand new hardcover releases for less than the price of the paper back. Not a bad deal.

  This month's picks were
  1. Nicotine by Nell Zink
  2. The Trespasser by Tana French 
  3. Every man a menace by Patrick Hoffman
  4. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
  5. A Gambler's Anatomy by Jonathan Lethem (picked by special guest Anthony Bourdain)
My final pick which was "Every man a Menace" by Patrick Hoffman. I also added a backlist pick (you can add up to 2 backlist picks for $9.99 each) "Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo Mbue which I had been dying to get my hands on ever since I heard about it on Book Riot.

Several days later (I got expedited shipping because I added an extra book) the books showed up at the door. I felt like a five-year old opening a Christmas present, here is what was inside!

Apple and coffee not included in the box

The first box you receive comes with a cute navy tote with "Book of the Month" on one side and the logo on the other, your book(s), and a magnet which is now proudly on my fridge. The tote is of great quality and I've already gotten great use out of it. No flimsy bags here! Something that I didn't realize was that the book dust jacket and spine comes emblazoned with the Book of the Month Logo as you can see in the picture. The back of the book also does not contain any blurbs or summaries but just states "Book of the Month" along with the month and year in which that book was originally offered. This didn't bother me but then again I'm not too picky about how my books look on the shelf. Lastly there was a note from the judge who had selected the book you chose that month.

Overall I am very happy with my Book of the Month box and I'm already anticipating next month's box!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tome Topple Read-a-thon! (Nov 18th - Dec 1st)

This year has been the year of bookish firsts in many ways for me, first year doing the Goodreads challenge, the first time I've subscribed to a bookish box, the first time writing into a bookish podcast and now...*drumroll* my first time participating in a read-a-thon!

I will be participating in the Tome Topple read-a-thon from midnight November 18th to 11:59pm November 30th. The point of this read-a-thon is to make a dent in those big books you've had on your shelf for a while, in other words you can only read books that are over 500 pages. There are also 5 challenges if you choose to accept them to get you started on your TBR. They are:

  1. Read more than one tome
  2. Read a graphic novel
  3. Read a tome that is part of a series
  4. Buddy read a tome
  5. Read an adult novel

I don't think I will be attempting to complete all of the challenges but I have a good idea of what my TBR will be: I will be attempting to finish 3 books total, 2 Fiction and 1 Non-Fiction, the books are:

1. The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

I am so excited about this book! I've been wanting to read this book ever since I heard about its release on the All the Books podcast. And now that it's out in paperback I can't wait to finally read it! This is a historical fiction novel that revolves around the life of Parisian-acclaimed opera singer Lilliet Burne who is offered the starring role in an original opera, the highest honor for an opera singer but soon discovers that the new opera narrates her life story and unearths secrets she wants to keep hidden.

Opera+Mystery+Beautiful narrative language= Yes Please!

2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Between the popularity of this series and the STARS TV series I feel that this book needs little introduction. Honestly, I've had mixed feelings about this book which is why it has remained on my shelf for such a long time. I am always weary of overhype and have heard lots of opinions regarding this series, good/bad/feminist/anti-feminist etc. but I also like give a books a chance so I've decided to take the plunge and read this book at last and form a judgement for myself.

3. The Village: 400 Years of Beat and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues by John Strausbaugh

I thought I'd throw a non-fiction book into the mix to keep things interesting! I plan to read this book throughout the read-a-thon along side my fiction pics. Ever since I moved to New York, I've been wanting to learn more and more about the local history and neighborhoods. Where better to start that with a biography of one of my favorite haunts: Greenwich Village!

For more information about the Tome-Topple Read-a-thon I will leave the links to the host's youtube/blogs and the goodreads group

Goodreads group:

Also follow @tome_topple for updates as well as using #tometopple!

Adriana -
Sarah-Jane -
Sheema - IG: dreamthiefs &
Caz -
Bethany -

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

#RiotReads Sorcerer to the Crown Review

Author: Zen Cho
Publisher: Ace
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fantasy/Speculative Fiction 

  The first #RiotReads pick is what would happen if a dragon and Jane Austen's work had a woke baby together:


Zacharias Wythe is the Sorcerer to the Crown in an alternative England where magic is a profession and the Society of Unatural philosophers is tasked with the maintenance of England's magic supplies. But there is trouble afoot. Napoleon is taking over Europe, something is causing England's magic reserves to dry up, strange magical assassination attempts are occurring, and as the adopted black son of the previous Sorcerer to the Crown who died under mysterious circumstances, Zacharias has his work cut out for him. Things get particularly interesting when he meets Prunella Gentleman when giving a speech at a school for gentlewitches. Prunella is a powerful mix-raced sorceress, a combination that is not particularly favored in a society where magic is not seen as a suitable endeavor for women. 


This book was a thought-provoking joy to read! First of all, it's a regency era comedy of manners but with magic. Basically if Jane Austen's works had a love baby with Gail Carriger's and a dragon this would be the result. I completely see how this might not be for everyone, but this rang so many of my bells.

Before I started reading this book, I scrolled through some of the Goodreads reviews something which I normally don't do but for some reason felt compelled to do so this time. The overall view was that it was a great book, the most common gripe was that it was a bit slow to start but it hooked you if you stuck with it. I would say that there is a point in this, the pacing of the plot seems to meander a bit even though the plot calls for urgency, whether this is a product of the genre or the author's first novel it's hard to say but it does not detract from the overall readability and engagement of the book.

 One of the reason that this book has gotten a lot of buzz is that it deals with the topic of race and microagressions in an interesting way by placing a black man and a mixed race woman at the center of a narrative that takes place in colonial-era England. Zacharias not only has to deal with all the hi-jinks that come along with the politicking of his post, familiars, fairies and curses, but also with the scorn of some his peers who look to delegitimize his claim to the staff of Sorcerer to the Crown because of his ethnicity.  Overall, although this book has some rough patches (it is a debut) it is funny, witty, thought provoking and a breath of fresh air. 

Zacharias is one of my favorite characters of any book I have read this year and really made me fall in love with the story. Prunella is more of a mixed bag but definitely has her charm and her feminist moments that slay. Can't wait for the next installment of the series!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Reading along with #RiotRead

It's no secret that I love it's basically an online community of diverse and awesome readers that posts great content daily. They have everything from book recommendation podcasts, to think pieces to givaways. It's basically a treasure trove for book nerds! There's a little bit for everyone, no matter your reading taste, but it also has broadened my reading horizons by introducing me to new material I never knew was missing from my life, in short BookRiot always has your back when you are in search of new books to discover.

So when they announced that they were starting a read-along I knew that I had to join in! Their first pick for October/November is Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho!

Sorcerer to the Crown is basically:  Austenesque comedy of manners + magic and sorcery + kick ass commentary on race and gender + awesome characters. Basically its everything in my wheelhouse <3

I am about a third of the  way through and I am loving it! Book riot has also release content related to the read-along if you have already finished the book including further reading and an interview with the author.

Let know if you are planning to participate too!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Book of the Month Subscription!

When the internet meets the bookish community interesting things happen. One of those things are a wide variety of book related online content and subscription services. I've decided to try one out and review it for you! I am so excited to say that I will be subscribing to and trying out the Book of the Month subscription service of three months!

Book of the Month is an online subscription service that offers you a choice of 5 new release hard-cover books that have been curated by a panel of literary figures each month. You can choose one book for around $10.00 (depending on the length of your subscription plan) and you can add additional books for $9.99 each. You also have the option of skipping a month and keeping the credit for another month if none of the titles appeal to you. Essentially this offers, new hard-cover releases at much lower prices than full-retail price.

I have chosen the 3 month subscription book without sponsorship or prompting by Book of the Month and have undertaking this with my own funds and out of my own curiosity.

I will provide updates when I choose and receive my first box in November but here are some preliminary thoughts before I embark on this bookish adventure!


Access. Although I recognize the trade-off between large internet providers *cough* Amazon *cough* and I tend to lean towards good old-fashioned brick and mortar stores, I also recognize that I am quite privileged to live in NYC where these are readily available. This service could provide access to new-releases at great prices to people who do not have access to physical book store and allows an alternative to Amazon as an online book retailer.

Prices. Anyone who has every bought a new hardcover release know that it costs an arm and a leg (well, around the realm of ~$35) You can always wait several months for the paperback release or hope that your local library will stock it, but reading books hot off the press can certainly be cost-prohibitive. This can be a lower-price alternative.


Selection. Each month you have a choice of 1+ books of a total of 5. These five are curated by guest panelists that rotate every month. The downside of course is that the choices are depended on their tastes which might not necessarily align with yours. The ability to opt out of a month and save your credit for another month buffers this downside.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Readalong! @MaidensofMurder #queenofcrimereadalong

Maidens of Murder are an instagram bookclub dedicated to reading the Agatha Christie canon. They basically combine two of my favorite things: bookstagram and Agatha Christie's books. They are a group of diverse bookstagrammers all with their own accounts but they also run the Maidens of Murder Instagram account collectively where they post gorgeous pictures of their latest Christie read and hold engaging discussions and debates about the text. If you have an instagram account you should definitely check out their page!

For the month of October they are hosting the  #queenofcrimereadalong ! All you have to do to participate is read one or more Agatha Christie books this month. Posting cute pictures of your TBR or commenting/writing a book review is completely optional!

Here is my TBR for the  #queenofcrimereadalong. I will be posting a collective review of these at the end of the month.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Man Named Ove by Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch

Author:  Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Year: 2014 (English translation) (2012 Swedish Original)
Pages: 337
Genre:Literary fiction/slice of life

@nycbookowl on Instagram


Ove is a grumpy curmudgeon with an uncompromising routine and values finds his world flipped up-side-down when a loud family comprising of a pregnant wife, a klutzy husband and 2 young girls move in next door and run over his mailbox in the process. What ensues is a bittersweet set of events that lead to unexpected friendships, hilarious hi-jinks, the adoption of a broken cat, and many trips to the hospital which reveal that there might be more to Ove than what his neighbors though...


This book was recommended to me by a friend and proved to be a refreshing change of pace with it's slow, character-driven, slice of life narrativeafter binging several crime thrillers. The story will appeals to fans of Pixar's UP and is ultimately about getting past first impressions. The story is told in two times periods, the present day, and flash backs which slowly reveal Ove's life history and give context for what is occurring in the present. 

The story also explores different ideas such as modernization, tradition, community and different types of love (romantic, friendship, family...) in ways that are both humorous and at times bittersweet. (I definitely blubbered several times while reading this on the subway...) Particularly interesting is Ove's recurring struggles against the "white-shirts" an embodiment of faceless, heartless bureaucracy.

This is an overall adorable, easy/fast book with hidden depth that makes you feel the feels and I would highly recommend it. There's also a movie (in Swedish!) which I can't wait to check out!

Rating: 5/5 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Tips for Bookish New Yorkers from the Dear Book Nerd Podcast!

As I mentioned in a previous post, listening to bookish podcasts during my commute is one of my favorite ways to pass the time. One of my favorite podcasts is "Dear Book Nerd" from Book Riot which answers questions about "Life, Love, and Literature" and is hosted by librarian and brooklynite Rita Meade who dishes out bookish wisdom is a soothing cadence.

As a fellow New Yorker I thought she would be the perfect person to ask for recommendations for bookish things to do in NYC so I submitted my question, and a couple of weeks ago she answered!

It really made my day to hear the question answer by one of my favorite bookish podcasters :)
and she gave some really great advice so I thought I'd share the link for anyone who is interested in checking  it out!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Doubleday, UK
Publication Year: 2015
Pages: 320
Genre: Thriller

I first heard about The Girl on the Train when I saw my mother-in-law (an always-reliable weather vane for anything mystery/thriller) reading it last summer. Soon it began to pop up across bookstores, retail stores and airports. Given its title (one of now a slew of 'girl' books) and it’s proximity to the release of the Gone Girl movie, the comparisons were inevitable as well as the squabbles over which one was better.

My curiosity was piqued especially since I had loved Gone Girl and of course, since everyone was raving about it, but I have this strange aversion about reading books at the peak of their buzz and will normally wait to read them later once they are available in paperback (does anyone else does this? I’m still trying to figure out if this is me gagging at the thought of forking over $35 dollars for a hardcover or a fear of collective exuberance clouding my reading experience) so I didn’t run out to get it right away and somehow I've managed to stay spoiler-free this whole time.

Months later, now that the movie will come out soon I figure it’s time to read the book! Here are my thoughts:

Overall I greatly enjoyed the book. It really satisfied my craving for  an introspective, character driven thriller.
The story itself builds tension slowly through atmospheric observations and narrative.The first couple of chapters especially can feel a bit slow for anyone expecting a fast-paced thriller, but stick with it, it’s worth it!

The story is narrated by three main characters, all women who are connected in ways that the reader slowly discovers. All three are flawed and elicit varying degrees of frustration and/or exasperation from the reader at times. The central character is Rachel, a lonely  alcoholic and the eponymous “girl on the train”  who commutes to London everyday and starts to romanticize a couple that she sees everyday through the window of the train as the perfect couple reminiscent of herself and her ex-husband before their divorce. One day, she witnesses something from the train and the next day the woman from the ‘perfect couple’ vanishes and Rachel becomes convinced that what she witnessed is related to the disappearance.

Although this book is what one might classify as a ‘domestic thriller’ I think that it differentiates itself from Gone Girl and stands quite well on it’s own. The Girl on the Train explores issues such as addiction, abuse, misogyny, relationship dynamics (both marital and non-marital) and alcoholism in a unique and thought provoking way. While the book is not overly violent or explicit by any means it does leave your stomach churning especially watching Rachel struggle through depression, addiction and compulsive behaviour as she attempts to solve the mystery surrounding the disappearance . You root for her, feel sorry for her, feel frustrated at her relapses and gasp with her as she pieces the parts together.

The only reason I did not give this a higher rating was of my own fault. I read a review of the book before I had finished it myself (Thanks NYT) which lead me to believe that the ending was monumental and shocking beyond belief and while the reveal was certainly heart pounding it felt less important than the review made it out to be. For me the real strength of this book was in it it’s character development, ability to generate empathy for deeply flawed and unlikable characters, and its raw depictions of alcoholism and mental health issues.

Rating: 3.75/5

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Can we talk about the Tokyo Zodiac Murders?

Omiomiomiomigod!I don’t know why I didn't pick this up sooner. To be fair I only learned about it recently when I was listening to the backlist of the All The Books  podcast from Book Riot (such a treasure trove of great book findings!). It sounded so intriguing that I wrote down the title and picked it up at the bookstore as soon as I could.


The premise is thus: In 1936, a deranged artist haunted by demons by the name of Heikichi Umezawa writes in his last will and testament a detailed and gruesome account of how he would murder his daughters and nieces to create the ultimate goddess. Soon after, he is found murdered himself, locked in his studio. Shortly after, the six women are found murdered in the exact way as described by the artist. The case stumped the Japanese police and has remained unsolved all this time. Fast forward forty years and friends Kazumi Ishioka and Kiyoshi Mitarai (a nod by the author to Holmes and Watson) are provided a fresh clue and decided to try their hand at the mystery.

This will be less of a review (because this book is brilliant) than a stream of consciousness inner monologue as I read this book. This Book is unputdownable and the only negative thing to say is that it made my brain feel like a pretzel.

~ Page 120

I can’t believe this is a debut novel. How can someone be so genius on their FIRST PUBLISHED BOOK?

Hehe the narrator is also a mystery book addict? I understand you bro!

Also why haven’t more of his works been translated into English? (Thank you Puskin Vertigo!)
Seriously this man is known in Japan as the “God of Mystery” and his other works haven’t been translated?

This is what happens when SAW and Sherlock Holmes have a baby.
Mutilation, murder and rape...oh this is not your grandma’s cozy mystery.

This book has lots of floor plans, family trees and diagrams: this is a nice nod to golden aged crime books, something I didn’t realized I wanted more of in my crime books.


Oh gross


~ page 200

Oh great, now you took on a bet that you could solve this mystery in a week???
You know it’s been unsolved for 40 years right? 40 YEARS.

I have absolutely no idea who could have done it, unless it was the artist who said he was going to do it, but he was dead so he couldn’t have done it. OR WAS HE? What if it’s a hoax, what if its not real? What if nothing is real??? WHAT IS REAL?

Oh really? I should be able to solve the mystery by now? I have all the clues? THANKS Shimada for making me feel completely incompetent

ANOTHER note from the author? Now he’s just gloating, I still have no idea…

That is probably the best a-ha moment I have ready in a book in a long time. Cray cray good.

Aaaaand he’s still not revealing how he figured it out….aaaand he stalling….come on, quit the tease, we want to know!!

Ok, well I certainly not expecting that….

My brain…

It’s so simple, but wow…

What is life….

Rating ☆☆☆☆☆
Go pick this up!
You can find the book here