July Books Round-Up

My relationship with reading has been on and off since the latter half of last year and I can come up of a thousand reasons/excuses as to why, so I wouldn’t even dare and waste time for that. But July has been different, maybe that was because I was just bored to death or I was just drowning in an ocean of stress – both, actually – that I had seek refuge and escape thru the world of reading and as usual it didn’t fail to provide me those. I have contemplated of sharing my thoughts about the books just like I always did but I wasn’t really feeling it at the time, so I didn’t stress about it and just kept on reading.

So here are the books I’ve read for the month of July:

The Enchantress by Michael Scott
– This has been a long time coming. This is the last book in the author’s series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. I love this series so much, it made me a fan of reading. Yep. That happened. If you like adventure, fantasy, magic and mythology with a lot of disgusting and creepy looking creatures – at least, in my imagination- and if you don’t mind reading a six book series, read this.

Find Her by Lisa Gardner
– I was definitely on my element when I read this. Mystery, thriller, suspense … screams me. My favorite genre. I remember this has toyed with my mind. If you’re like me, who just loves thriller, give this a try.

Undercover by Danielle Steel
– I absolutely enjoyed this book. The first part may have been a little slow for me but it definitely made up on the latter half. If you know me, you’ll know romance and action is a pretty famous combo for me.

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks
– Honestly, I have a torn heart for this. I don’t love it but I don’t hate it either. It has a little bit of romance and a little bit of mystery but the climax I think is what killed it for me. The twist in the end, I found it a bit lacking. I think it’s still a decent and entertaining read.

After You by Jojo Moyes
– I have to say that I was a little hesitant to read this after the heart-wrenching, soul-breaking mess I had experienced when I read Me Before You. I even hadn’t watch the movie yet, I guess I just don’t want to go through it again. But of course with so much curiosity eating me up, I gave in and I didn’t regret. I don’t want to spoil anything if you hadn’t read it. Just read it.

Zero Excuses: Hot to live a Beautiful Life and be Cool as F*ck by Gabriel Machuret
– This has been the greatest book I’ve read so far this year. One of the books that I’d very much want to have the physical copy  of. It’s a light read, it’s practical, it’s funny, it’s true. This book made me feel so guilty about a lot of things. From start to finish, if not all then a big chunk of it strongly resonated to me. So relatable.

Six books for a month is already plenty right? But I thought I have read more than that. I hope I can read more this coming month.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

Related image“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.” – William James

I learned about this book through an instagram post of a youtuber that I have been watching for a while. She posted a picture of a page of it and it certainly seemed interesting to me. This is one of those books that I would want to have the actual book in reach and whenever I feel negative, I’d turn to this and read the parts relating to what I’m  feeling.

This book is – like the title says – about not sweating the small stuff because they’re just small stuff. It contains strategies on how you can find your peace, balance, acceptance, kindness and happiness in times of internal turmoil. And I believe that the strategies provided are really doable that we can adapt in our own daily lives.  I also found myself a lot of times smiling to learn what the strategy that the author suggested to solve the conflicts/problems that I can relate to. The simplicity of his solutions are kind of mind blowing. Don’t sweat the small stuff indeed.

The thing that I liked the most about this book is how easy it is to read. It doesn’t look or sound like an academic book. I also like the fact that the strategies are concisely written in a conversation kind of way. It’s like a friend giving you advises about the negativities, problems, concerns or worries that you have and what you can do about it. Also the author himself gave personal insights and examples as to how he adapt or utilize these strategies in his own self and life. This book gave me new perspectives about some things and it also is relatable.

Will I recommend this? Totally. Why wouldn’t I? There’s  a ton to learn from this book. If you’re like me who likes to read self-help books from time to time, this is definitely a good book to read. Just like what the author claims,

“Each strategy is simple, yet powerful, and will act as a navigational guide to point you in the direction of greater perspective and more relaxed living. You’ll find that many of these strategies will apply not only to isolated events but to many of life’s most difficult challenges.”

– and I’ve felt that. Really. No kidding. I’m a great worrier, I worry all the time. I worry even on the small things, small things that in minutes snowballs to bigger and more things which then stresses me out and produces negativities. See? This book is perfect for people like me and to everyone of course. This also made me feel like I’m just a normal human being and that I’m not the only one who goes through small and big experiences in life.

Breakneck by Erica Spindler

The thing about me and book series is that I just couldn’t wait, so when I finished reading Copycat I immediately started reading Breakneck which is the second installment of the Kitt Lundren series.

Detective Kitt Lundgren and Detective Mary Catherine (M.C) Riggio partnered up again to a crime that involves young adults who are seemingly involved in illegal activities. After called up to Matt Martin’s apartment who was found dead as if he was sleeping on his bed but with his neck broken, partners Kitt and M.C were at a lost as they couldn’t find a motive because the young man’s criminal record was clean. Until at the night of M.C’s engagement party, her fiance Dan Gallo was shot on the head and not long after that M.C found her cousin, Tommy Mariano, dead on his bath tub with a shot also on the head. Then more bodies of young adults found. The case has become too close and too much for M.C that it eventually affected her and her relationship with Kitt. M.C must know who to trust and to decide whether to uphold the law or take it on her own hands.

Breakneck is the second book in the series but it can be read on its own. Breakneck was more focused on M.C and I think her character have shine in here and was explored more brought by the so much emotions that have put on her way. She showed how tough she can be, trying to hang in there despite all the things that she was going through and she also showed how fragile and vulnerable she was, always tempted to breakdown but of course being the woman that she was, she just wouldn’t let it happen. This book also showed another side of Kitt Lundgren’s character. I like how she always has M.C’s back, supporting her and always reminding her to not let the case consume her ‘cause Kitt had been there and knew that it was no good place to be. It also seemed to me that Kitt was more relax in here yet have the same fire to catch the suspect.

In this book, trust was a sensitive issue. You just don’t know who to trust. The story threw the characters in a series of doubt. I also like the idea that the matter involved in the story which was cyberthief, hacking and cracking, can be applied on this modern day which gave the readers lessons to learn and I  applaud that.

Breakneck is another fast-paced and thrilling read penned by Erica Spindler and another book that didn’t disappoint. It had me guessing as to who the culprit was, and when you thought you had him, turn to the next page and you’ll find out your wrong. I actually liked the twist in the end which is a big clap clap. It was an enjoyable read from the beginning up to the end. Would I recommend it? Of course I will because why not? It’s a great read.

Copycat by Erica Spindler

Surprise, surprise! Here I am again with my crime-thriller addiction and when you say crime-thriller, Erica Spindler’s name will always pop in my head because if you do not know already she’s my favorite.

I hadn’t read a book in over two months because I was not feeling it but lately I longed for the feeling of excitement, mystery and thrill that reading gives you and crave for the satisfaction when you finished a book. Since I was in a rut with reading, choosing a book to read was no easy feat so I asked myself what kind of book does hold my interest best, what kind of book makes my blood rush with excitement and yes, you guessed it, thrillers will always be at the top of my list.

So, I brought out Copycat and it surely didn’t disappoint. Copycat is the first book for the Kitt Lundgren series. It is about Detective Kitt Lundgren who has led the investigation about the serial killer she named as the Sleeping Angel Killer, who killed three ten-year old, blonde-haired and blue-eyed girls. No evidence, no witnesses and the killer calls them his ‘perfect crimes’ which have put Kitt’s career in jeopardy when she have let the killer slipped out of her hands. Then five years later, the Sleeping Angel Killer was back. Kitt noticed slight variations from the past killings and then the unthinkable happened when the killer himself called Kitt and offered to help her catch his copycat.

“A good investigator always let the scene and its evidence tell the story.”

One of the reasons why I love Erica Spindler’s books is that she has the ability to catch the reader’s interest and curiosity in just the first paragraph of the book. That’s proven at least in my case because that happens to me if not every time then most of the times that I have read her books. I’ve felt pity and amazement with Kitt’s character.  I’ve felt bad for her whenever she was having a meltdown, made me feel like I want to give her a hug but I was amazed with her as well because of how strong she was for handling and dealing with the situations she was in. I have had a love-and-hate relationship with Detective M.C Riggio’s character, Kitt’s partner, during the first half of the book maybe because she was too ambitious, slightly inconsiderate and always by the book kind of gal but I’ve grown to like her for the latter half of the book.

The thing that I love the most about this book was how it toyed with my mind; it had me guessing as to who the killer was and that’s a big thing for me ‘cause did I say that I love that? This book has a lot of suspicious characters; it had me thinking/guessing and was even paranoid for every character’s move. I love and hate it at the same time when my assumed killer turned up dead because I need me to have another guess as to who the culprit was which always add up to the thrill and excitement. I just love the mystery that this book has offered.

The story line for me was great, it was fast-paced but I have to say though, the twist in the end I found not really that satisfying or should I say I didn’t saw that one coming at all. It was beyond my guesses and surely I was not a fan of that. In my head it kind of had no sense and just kind of popped up out of nowhere. I was actually shocked when I read about it or maybe I thought I just didn’t paid enough attention with the clues, I don’t know. I wasn’t really that convinced, maybe it was just me but that’s another important thing for me in crime-thriller stories. The killers/suspects reasons as to what compelled them to do such things has to be convincing for me, that’s one way I found closure with the story.

But aside from that one thing, I enjoyed everything else about it. Would I recommend it? Of course, I will. I’m actually curious as to what other readers think about it, especially about the twist in the end. Those feelings I’ve craved for when I was still in a rut with reading, everything was met with this book and I couldn’t be happier that I am back to reading and that this book didn’t disappoint me. Give this a read, and if you did, let me know what you think.

the life-changing magic of tidying by marie kondo

A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming.

This book has been a long time coming; I have put off tending to this book for the longest time. Clearly, I’ve discovered this book through social media and the internet because we all know that everyone has  talked about it, add in when the minimalism trend became in then it boomed even more.

At first, I thought it is a book just about tidying and decluttering but obviously, it offers more than that. I came to understand it more and more as I was reading it and I actually have found myself nodding to this and that, muttering to myself that “Yep, that’s me.”, “Yes, I do that too.”, and “I am so guilty of that.” I got interested about it for this very reason that she said “You, on the other hand, have been led to read it, and that means you probably have a strong desire to change your current situation, to reset your life, to gain happiness, to shine.” And also this “…one of the magical effects of tidying is confidence in your decision-making capacity.” because “If we have confidence in our decisions and launch enthusiastically into action without any doubts holding us back, we will be able to achieve much more.

While I was reading, Marie Kondo struck me as someone who is obsessed with cleaning and organizing starting from a very young age. She has like dedicated her entire life to tidying, studying it, teaching it and putting it into practice. Then comes her theories and it actually all made sense, her techniques all has bases and when you really think about it, it all are pretty simple. I got to say she really knows her stuff.

These are the tips that I’ve learned based on KonMari’s method:

1. The major rule is to ask yourself whether your things sparks you joy or not. If it is something that gives you joy then keep it, if it is not then discard it. She said to “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge to discard the rest.

2. Remove everything from the closet, drawer, cupboards or whatever it is that you want to tidy and put them all to the floor. That way you’ll see and touch/hold every item, making the process of deciding what to keep and what to discard easier and more effective.

3. Do not get victimized by the thought that you might need it one day or that you might read or reread it later because she emphasized that that is more likely not going to happen. (This has to be my favourite tip of them all because this is me every time.)

4. I completely agree when she said that it’s better to tidy up in one fell swoop rather than doing it gradually because that way you can instantly see and feel its effects. “If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set. A change so profound that it touches your emotions will irresistibly affect your way of thinking and your lifestyle habits.

See? This book does not only offer you the tips and tricks on how to declutter your space but also gives you the psychology of it. She have went on and on about the positive things and the positive effects that you’ll get in a tidied and organized home not just environmentally but also physically and mentally which is the best thing. Although I got a little weirded out when I got to the part wherein she talks to her house and her things, thanking them for serving her their purpose, for doing their work which I am not completely against to if you do that. I am also really grateful for the stuff that I have that’s why I use them with care as much as possible as my way of showing my gratitude to them for making me feel beautiful and for making my life easier and convenient.

Now, I totally get it why this book has become so handy for the people who support the minimalism lifestyle. Don’t underestimate this book; you’ll get a lot from it. This is another must have as a physical book for me; I really want a copy of it.

…tidying can transform your life.

If you want to organize your place and/or your life as well, then you’ll find a lot of tips and motivation in here because her tips doesn’t only apply to things, it can also be applied to your life too. You’ll feel really inspired at the end of this book because I did. No wonder that this has become a total hit. I, of course, recommend for you read it.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is another book that I would want to have a physical copy of because I just related a lot to it. I know this is a book that isn’t really alien to a lot of us anymore because a lot of people actually have raved about it and talked about it that it has even been adapted into a movie which starred by Julia Roberts.

Eat, Pray, Love is the story of the author herself, Elizabeth Gilbert, about her journey of self-discovery. She has everything a woman could ask for: a husband, a house in New York and a successful career as a writer and yet she still felt empty and unhappy. So she divorced her husband, left everything she had and embarked on an adventure to find herself. That’s how she spent four months in Italy for pleasure through amazing food and learning the language, then she spent another four months in India for devotion. There she went in an Ashram and learned about the power of prayer and meditation. After that she spent her final four months in Bali for balance between pleasure/enjoyment and spirituality.

For the first part which was set in Italy, I found it a little bit hard to read for some reason. It was supposed to highlight the ‘pleasure’ part but for me, I felt like it was a bit lacking like it wasn’t really explored that much. It mostly talked about her fallen marriage, the painstaking process of the divorce and the depression she experienced after that. For the second part which was set in an Ashram in India, among the three parts, this is the one that stood out for me, maybe because this was the one in which I have related a little bit to her because she talked more about the battles she has with herself. Even though I do not know anything about yoga and/or meditation, I was fascinated by the concepts of it which has really intrigued me. And for the last part which was set in Bali, Indonesia, well I think it was just an okay story.

The things that I surely love from this book are her writing style and her sense of humor. I love the way she writes with flowery and descriptive words, oh I’m a fan with that and I found it really entertaining, her humor is on point. While reading the book, it felt like as if I was just listening to a friend sharing these stories over a cup of coffee which I have really admired.

If you’d ask me who my favorite character is,  well I have two actually. First, can I have me some Ketut Liyer please? I really really like his personality. Whenever the story motioned to him, I never failed to have a smug on my face, he’s just so cute. Who wouldn’t want an enlightened friend, right? If you needed advise on to anything in life just ask him and before you knew it, you already have the answer. Second, I’d like me to have some Richard from Texas too please. He may be annoying at first because he may have the tendency to stick his nose in onto your business/life but that was just because he wanted you to realize something, or at least for me, that’s how I envisioned him. But he’s an enlightened friend as well, just like Ketut, he can give you the advises and answers that you need  too. And the other thing that I like about him so much, is that he makes the weird yet sweet endearment, just like how he calls Liz, he calls her Groceries.

All in all it was an entertaining experience of reading, though I do not completely love it but I do not hate it either. Did I mention that I really like her writing style? Do I recommend this? Maybe to those people whom I think can relate, yes. If you’re plainly curious about this book then I don’t think it’ll hurt to give this a try, you never know what a book can teach you because I have definitely learned few things from here. Through this book, I have taken in consideration that I may be a control freak.

“Life didn’t go your way for once. And nothing pisses off a control freak more than life not ‘goin her way.”

– So me. No, that is literally me. It drives me mad when things doesn’t go the way I want them to be.

And also through this book, I’ve discover my favorite parting endearment ever. It goes like this: ‘See you later, alligator.’ then the answer to that would be ‘In a while, crocodile.’ Isn’t that just cute and adorable? No? Just me? It never failed to make me smile and giggle whenever I read that. I think that came from Ketut too, see I just love him so much.

And if you are a sucker for good quotes, hmmm .. you’ll definitely find plenty in this book, with that being said, allow me to share some of my favorites:

A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…

Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.

You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.

You are, after all, what you think. Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.

That’s all for now folks. ^^  See you all later, alligators. —-> I am just really fond of this parting endearment, so I have all the intention to copy it. 😀

The Reading Habits Book Tag

I was randomly reading new posts from my reader last night until I came across this dear friend’s post and much to my surprise, I was tagged! Yay! I totally enjoyed reading it and seem like a lot fun to answer and since I was tagged might as well just do it. It’s supposed to be a book review post day but I don’t have any as of now since I’m still half-way done with my current read, it’s a long one really.

So let’s get into this:

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
Our apartment is relatively small for eight persons and two dogs, so the house tends to get really noisy and loud and rowdy most of the time so I really have no choice but to read in our room or sometimes in my parent’s room if they’re not there. I rarely read in the living room because it rarely gets absent of people but when it happens I do read there too, plus the lighting is really good and bright. Less strain for the eyeballs. 😀

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
I don’t really own a bookmark. A random piece of paper? I’ve done that before, the last thing I’ve used as a bookmark was a cut-out that I used as a stencil for my brother’s project way back last year. My favorite way of bookmarking which I always do when I read physical books, is to fold the top corner of the page where I left off. Yep, that’s how I do it.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
No, I cannot just stop reading; I hate it when I have to stop midway of the chapter. I literally have to finish the chapter before I can leave it.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
I can eat while reading. I can drink while reading. I can also do both while reading. But most of the time you’ll find me drinking tea or coffee while reading and I will not have a care in the world ’cause I’m already comfy like that.

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
The reason why I do my reading mostly at night when everybody is already dozing off is because noise easily distracts me. The very introvert in me prefers mellow environment. I can still read with the telly and/or music on but don’t expect me to just comfortably read because I need to stop at every few paragraphs to dispel a little of the distractions, clear the mind and continue reading. It’s like swimming; you need to swim up to catch some oxygen before you can swim again.

6. One book at a time or several at once?
Definitely and without a doubt, one book at a time please. That’s the way I can thoroughly enjoy the book I’m reading. That’s a better way for me to understand and absorb what the book is about.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?
I am of course the most comfortable reading at home, where I can just lie on bed if my back hurts from sitting for long and freely walking to and fro our kitchen to get refills of my drinks and/or snacks. I tried reading on a moving bus when my friends and I were on our way to our vacation last year but it was too wobbly and the light was too dim for me so I just gave up. I think I can read anywhere as long as it’s quiet, not to hot and enough light if I am to read a physical book.

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?
I like reading out loud, not too loud as if I’m doing a speech though, just loud enough for me to hear, mostly just more than a whisper really then I silently read to myself when I get tired. It’s a habit I made of. It’s my way of improving my pronunciation and speaking skills. Speaking is definitely a goal that I want to get better at.

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
A hundred percent no. No matter how bad or great the book is, I do not read ahead nor skip pages. Just no. Even though I know for sure what will happen in the end, I believe that it’s still important to know the stories in between because you never know what might be in there. Maybe the most satisfying twists and turns you’re craving are in there … and you just missed it. How wasteful that is. I cannot forgive myself if that ever happens to me.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
I hate hate hate breaking the spine of a book even though most of my books came from second-hand book shops especially when I bought it really brand new. I don’t really mind folding the top corners as my bookmark but breaking the spine is a no no for me. I like keeping my things like new as much as possible.

11. Do you write in your books?
I hardly ever do so unless it’s really important or impactful for me. But nowadays that I mostly read in my iPad, I like highlighting some parts that I like then whenever I feel like it, I go back to it and read it again and be reminded why I liked that part in the first place.

12. Who do you tag?
I cannot think of anyone to tag but you. Whoever you are reading this, if you feel like doing this please do so and let me know ’cause I enjoy reading this as much as answering it.