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