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Moving House

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I am gathering up the last of my blogging stray ends and tying them all up into one giant, collective blogging mess.

This is the final piece of the puzzle which will be merged into my life blog:

Where’s the Jade?

Indubitably, book reviews and the written word will take up a large part of it. So please visit, read, and subscribe at your leisure.

Thanks for sticking it out with me for a year! I hope to see you on the new platform.

Stay bookish!

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Book 03: The Giver

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Courtesy of Zap 2 It

Title: The Giver

Author: Lois Lowry

Genre: YA, dystopia, Sci-fi

SummaryCourtesy of Goodreads

Jonas’ world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Eaten Thru On: January 17, 2014

Thoughts:

Many friends of mine who spent their entire childhood in the Western education system have read this book before blowing out the 13 candles on their birthday cakes. I however, were still in ESL at that time, so I’ve never even heard of this literature until a friend recommended it to me after learning about my dystopian craving.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t read it as a pre-teen, or maybe I’m used to the Hunger Games and Divergent sort of dystopic world, but I didn’t really enjoy this novel, not as much as I would have liked. The way the Giver was suddenly inspired into action didn’t feel real to me. Wasn’t he supposed to be the wisest? What about all those Givers who came before him? Didn’t they have ideas to release memories back and change the system? It’s unbelieveable to me that Jonas was the one to provoke a change of mind, a change of heart, and a change of action, simply by uttering a few words of teenage rebelliousness against the unfairness he came to see in his once-perfect world. How did all the other receivers that came before him never saw the injustice and cruelty of such a bland, peaceful world? And if the incident with Rosemary was the precedent that helped formulate the revolutionary idea, how could there not have been a Rosemary before? I just can’t get over how “special” and I don’t mean just that Jonas was the Receiver, but also that he was the one, had to be the one, to this world’s undoing. He just wasn’t unique enough for me to see him as so special. I’m not making any sense am I?

The final part with Jonas and baby Gabriel was written in unsatisfactory vagueness. There weren’t apt description to make to me feel their pain, hunger, isolation, desperation in that darkness, not enough that when they finally saw the light, it brought relinquishing relief. It just didn’t do it for me.

The wonderful parts was the world that Lowry created. I loved that she demonstrated how powerful, defining, and essential memories are. Not just individual memories, but memories of a collective, of the human race. I sympathize deeply with the idea that in order to create a peaceful, stable, and controlled world, the freedom to choose and to feel has to be subdued. That’s a powerfully dark message, and I loved it.

I also very much enjoyed the conversations between The Giver and Jonas. They were like mini-lessons on life and its myriad of beautiful and complex details packed into verbal format. The truth, and I don’t mean the absolute, universal, grand-arching truths, but the truths personal to each individual according to their memories and interpretations of it, that truth can and does set one free. Which is the ultimate symbolism I received as I watched Jonas journey out and finding the Elsewhere.

Just because I finished the book with a slight bitter taste in my mouth doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to the movie.

Favourite Quote:

Each night he gave memories to Gabriel: memories of boat rides and picnics in the sun; memories of soft rainfall against windowpanes; memories of dancing barefoot on a damp law.

“Gabe?”

The new child stirred slightly in his sleep. Jonas looked over at him.

“There could be love,” Jonas whispered.

Final Verdict: 3/5 gummy bears

Next TargetHow Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen

Book 02: Allegiant

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Courtesy of the Book Smugglers

Title: Allegiant

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: YA, Dystopian

Summary: Courtesy of Goodreads

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Eaten Thru On: January 10, 2014 at 2:23pm

Thoughts:

The grand reveal!

Everything you wanted to know about the world of the factions are uncovered. What was outside of the world Tris’ was born into, why were the factions created, what was the world like leading up to this.

So many answers!

It was quite a lot to take in. I felt this last book had almost too much packed into it. But I guess it’s only fair for the final book of the trilogy.

There were major plot twists along the line that made me feel hopeless. I kept asking myself, how will Roth untangle all of these knots?! And of course, the inevitable thought that she won’t be able to.

She ended up doing a sufficiently satisfactory job. But not as well and seamless as I imagined it to be. Nonetheless, this book wasn’t so much about the plot as it was the characters and their struggles. I liked the flip-flop between Tris and Tobias’ point-of-views. It gave me a more comprehensive look into Tobias’ character. The new ones that Roth dropped into the book, most of whom were unmemorable. A few, like Matthew, stuck out. But the long-runnning and returning characters still nabbed my attention and interest.

Alright, time for the spoilers.

And it’s the worst kind, I will spoil the ending for you. I know, I know. What’s the point of a review if you spoil everything. But give me a break! I just–it just–I just have to talk about the ending ok! Read it and you’ll understand my inability to contain myself. If you are here to find out if it’s worth the read, I don’t even need to give you a review. It’s a definite, YES! Stop mindlessly surfing the Internet, buy the trilogy, and get reading already!

I am speechless.

That finale shocked me to my core. I never knew it would come. I guess all the books I’ve ever read, especially of these YA, dystopian genres, none of them ever ended so tragically for the main character. Even in the aftermath of the tragedy, I still kept hoping and hoping it wasn’t true, that like Amar, she would rise again. I even flipped through the Acknowledges, knowing that an Epilogue is the end of all endings to a book. I wanted to believe she didn’t just leave us like that.

So yes I cried. Yes I hated it.

But I felt a sense of admiration for Veronica Roth. Having spent three books with these characters, it must have been hard for her to write that, knowing how much people love happy endings, and more importantly, knowing how difficult it would be for her to do it. The last words of the book did end up bringing a smile to my face, despite it all. Even in death, Tris’ strength, her courage and her legacy united people and brought peace and bravery to those around her. I liked that a lot. The most important thing in life is not live forever, but to leave behind something that will.

This book was by the far best of three for me, not only because of what I just mentioned, but also because Veronica created people that took different paths. Tris. Tobias. Peter. Besides Tris, I feel like Peter’s choice was a sobering one to read. Many people do give up. Not everyone is as tough and invincible as the main characters usually are, and that’s OK. It’s relatable, understandable, recognizable in ourselves. That’s an important message to put through.

Of course, Tris’ choice to not be like Caleb and deliver him to his death. In those final moments, seeing him as her brother again, and remembering all the good that’s still inside him. As much as it hurt to watch her choose, her decision made her that much more admirable, selfless (Born a Stiff, always a Stiff), and immortal. Family, you can live with them and you can’t live without them.

And Uriah. Why? WHY? WHY?!?!

The sudden onset of the closeness between him and Christina. Not so fond of it. But then again, I understand and have witnessed the rapid speed at which tragedy and loss can unite people. Still, it doesn’t mean I like it.

One more thing: Tobias. How can you be so stupid?! OK, done and over it. But I absolutely loved the fact Roth didn’t let him drink that memory serum. It would have been the end of my respect for this trilogy. Cowardice never suited him and never will. I have Christina to thank for that.

As for the plot, the schism between the genetically-pure and the genetically-damaged, the fringes, the experimenting, the ingrained thinking of those in the Compound, they all find great echoes throughout our own human history. That was a component I did find interesting in this big unveiling. If only it was as easy as unleashing a memory serum to reset everything.

How will I watch the movie now, knowing what I know?!

Goddamn book spoilers.

Final Verdict: 4/5 (The best book out of the 3!)

Best Enjoyed: Just finish it! Do all three in one sitting if you can!

Next Target: I don’t know. I need sometime to process all of this. I guess you’ll find out when my next review comes out.

Book 01: Matilda

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Welcome to the New Year!

Happy 2014. Let’s open this baby up with a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

Title: Matilda

Author: Roald Dahl

Genre: children’s fiction

Summary: Matilda is not an ordinary child. For one, she was born into a family of unbelievably low IQ and even lower love for her. For another, she has abilities beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations. By age 5 she had the mind of a genius mathematician, read all the children’s books in the library and a whole lot more in the adult’s section, and had learned to prank her self-centred parents with an assortment of creative methods. When her family finally got around to registering her in primary school, she was ecstatic. What could be more wonderful than school, where she could learn, and learn and learn all day long! But she never thought it could be a place to harbour a monster, and yet, there it was, Ms. Trunchbull, the scary, menacing Principal. However, her classmates loved her and there’s always Matilda’s favourite teacher to turn to, Ms. Honey. This story is filled with mischief, magic, and adventure.

Eaten Thru On: January 5, 2014

Thoughts:

What a sweet, heart-warming story to start off the year!

I did not spend my childhood immersed in Western children’s literature, so I didn’t go through stories like those of Roald Dahl or Dr. Seuss. But no matter, it’s never too late to start catching up!

I loved Matilda. From the first mention of her I wanted her to be my child. Of course, her absolute love for books caught me like Winnie the Pooh to honey. Watching her escape the almost-tragic family she was born into through the written word made me feel triumphant in knowing that she was a hundred times better than her parents will ever be. Even though it breaks my heart that her family and the people around her were so ignorant of her amazing abilities, her modesty, and her childlike wonder, and treated her like a criminal, there was always Ms. Honey to bring me hope. She protected Matilda, and kept her curious, brave and happy. I very much enjoyed following Matilda on her little pranking adventures. It brought much-needed smiles to my face, while I’m in the deep trenches of final exams and papers and deadlines, to see those well-deserved pranks delivered smoothly and without hiccup. What sense of justice I felt!

The colourful and creative language Roald Dohl is not shy about putting into a children’s book, was refreshing and very amusing to happen upon as an adult. I think I will adopt quite a few of them appropriate terms to refer to some awful people I’ve encountered and have to deal with in my life at the moment. There can never be enough words to swear with!

Take an hour or two out of your busy day, and go read it. Re-read if you were lucky enough to grow up with such delightful stories.

Final Verdict: 4/5

Best Enjoyed: With your parents, or read it to your child if you have one. And if you are far away from family like I am, just curl up with a friend, or a pillow, or an old favourite teddy.

Next Target: Allegiant By Veronica Roth

2013 In Review

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For the majority of people on Earth, tonight is New Years Eve. Being a bookworm, it’s only natural to reflect and look back through the prism of books.

So here are my top five books of the year:

5. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Because it is a painfully raw, heartbreakingly true story. A severe wake-up call.

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel Grace. That name alone is all it takes.

3.Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

The scariest thing is that it reads like a current-day novel, and it isn’t. It should never be.

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Her circumstances, her courage, and her iron-will made a lasting impression on me. And that one section when she arrived at the ability to read, that was absolutely inspirational.

1. And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

No one can weave a story quite like Hosseini. This story being almost completely different from Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, I was nervous he might not match up to his previous glory. But I was foolish to doubt him. He exceeded my highest expectations and put me in my place to never question his ability to spin an amazing, riveting, and heart-wretching story again.

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Have a splendidly warm and book-filled New Years Eve! And may all your new year resolutions be outrageous and far-reaching!

Shoot for the stars. I know I will.

Book 21: Insurgent

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I lied.

Divergent wasn’t my last book of 2013.

But I didn’t really consciously and intentionally lie. I wasn’t intending on touching its sequel until I finished my research papers. Yet, I couldn’t keep my mind from roaming and my hands from flipping the pages and me from procrastinating.

And I can’t promise that I won’t finish Allegiant before the clock strikes midnight on January 1, especially since I’m already on Chapter 4.

——-

Courtesy of http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/

Title: Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: YA, Sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian

Summary: (Beware: Spoilers for those who haven’t read the first book yet!) Success through the brutal initiations in Dauntless should have been marked by celebration and victory, but instead, Tris faces a devastating attack on her home and society, choices that will test the very core of her humanity and values, and a looming war. Haunted by guilt and grief, having to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances, and struggle with her Divergence, her relationships and herself, Tris must be stronger than ever in order to save her loved ones, come to terms with the truth, and hold on to life.

Eaten Thru On: December 28, 2013 at 2:01am

Thoughts:

(Spoilers! SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!)

To be scathingly honest, the writing kind of fell apart for me. The storyline was alright, but all the hints Roth dropped throughout this book about the grand revelation at the end gave me more than enough to know what was to be unearthed. So, when I arrived at that moment, I wasn’t as surprised as I wanted to be. There was one detail which I never foresaw, so that kept the ending from being completely ruined.

I appreciated being able to sympathize with Tris’ recklessness as a symptom of her deep grief. With everything she’s been through, I wasn’t surprised she wanted death because it was the ultimate release from all the chaos, pain, guilt, responsibilities and death around her, on her and within her. It was overwhelming and I can relate. However, at times I hear myself telling her to get over it and fight for her life! Ultimately, the core of me still wants to see the protagonist put up a good fight and never give up.

The love story between Tris and Tobias got a little heated, a little old and a little amateurish at times, especially considering the environment they were in. But I still liked it to a certain extent. It was one of the few light, beautiful things left in that world of theirs. The friendship between Tris and Christina has wound its way to top of my favourite relationships list.  It was one of the biggest relief in the story for me when they made up. I don’t like to see the main character struggle alone. It’s just such hard (and most of the time, fatal) path to walk all by oneself. Teamwork people!

And my god! Is Tobia’s family twisted. I can’t imagine how much problems that guy would have in real life. He’d probably be a sociopathic serial killer of some kind or another. That man needs a lot of love, healing and time. But then again, so does pretty much everyone in this trilogy, with the amount of bloodshed and catch-22 decisions they all have had to make.

Final Verdict: 3/5

Best Enjoyed: In one go!

Next Bookworming TargetAllegiant by Veronica Roth.

Have a good New Years! Keep it classy people.

Book 20: Divergent

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Pew! It has been two whole months since I last finished a book. Masters has been hell. But here I am!

I was determined to finish at least 20 books, even if I won’t hit my target of 30.

So here it is, the final review of 2013.

—–

Courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Genre: YA, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Summary: In Roth’s dystopic futuristic world, five factions are created based on five virtues: Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). This is so to maintain peace among the people of this society. Every year, on an appointed day, all sixteen-year-olds must take a test and ultimately decide for themselves which faction to live out the rest of their lives in. For Beatrice Prior, that day determines whether she stays with her family or be who she truly is. Not only does she make a shocking choice which changes her name to Tris, but she is also burdened with a dangerous secret that can lead to her demise.

In the initiation which follows, she must keep her head levelled as her physical and mental endurance are push to their limits. Meanwhile, she has to figure out who her friends really are, how to face her deep-seated fears, and how to harness the power of that secret which can destroy her–or save the ones she loves.

Eaten Thru On: December 21, 2013 1:58am

Thoughts:

The plot definitely scored well with me, a dystopian-sci-fi fanatic. I liked Roth’s idea of the five virtues. It’s interesting to think about which one I personally would have chosen to belong to. The budding romance between Beatrice and a lovely, enigmatic boy most certainly stirred my interest and kept me going (and giggling and squealing like a little fan-girl). The action and the conflicts were well done. Although I have to say, some of the more “prominent” deaths in the story wasn’t played up as much as I’d like. Then again, maybe it is a reflection of reality. A death of a loved one (oops, did I spoil something?) might seem like the world has collapsed to you, but to others, it’s just another passing. And in the context of a war, it’s even less significant. There are bigger dangers to worry about.

One thing I did love is discovering the fact that Tris is not the kind-hearted and do-gooder heroine whom are so prevalent in numerous works of fiction and media. She has a fire in her, and she isn’t afraid to feel, think or do things that are commonly viewed as too “cruel” and “dark” for a heroine. She reacted to certain situations and people like most actual human beings would. She has both light and dark, not just some righteous-till-the-end character with no meaningful, real depth to them. She doesn’t always do the right thing, but I applaud that because I would probably have done the exact same thing, or worse, if I were in her shoes. I don’t like it when a main character makes me feel bad about my less-than-kind thoughts and actions, when they are so righteous that it makes them almost pathetic. I have little sympathy for those who lose everything because they can’t do that one act of necessary “evil”. I’m glad Tris isn’t one of those “perfectly good” characters.

It’s one of those books that, if this type of genre captivates you, would keep you gripped and flipping the pages until the end. But alas, the actual writing wasn’t all that dazzling. I didn’t expect it to be, being an escapist novel and all. The story is what kept me involved, which meant that I skipped over lines and sometimes jumped over entire paragraphs just to get to the good bits.

Nonetheless, read it, love it, and fidget excitedly over your copy of its sequel: Insurgent.

Final Verdict: 3/5

Best Enjoyed: Curled up underneath the sheets, reading until your eyes go blind.

Next Bookworming TargetInsurgent by Veronica Roth (Surprise, surprise).

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There has been a subtle change to the Project. I will obviously fail to read 30 books before 11:59pm on December 31st, 2013. But have no fear! I’m at it again this coming year. And this time, I will be triumphant.

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