December 17, 2014

Book Review: Halton Cray (Shadows of the World 1) by N.B. Roberts

Halton Cray (Shadows of the World, #1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

Oh. My. God. 
Halton Cray is the best young-adult fantasy book I ever read my whole life!

Really. I’m not exaggerating things here. I’m stating the fact.
Truthfully, I am not really into fantasy or paranormal type of books. I love young adults, but I never really fancy those with fantasy feels inside. I did read several young adult fantasies that (mostly) contained forbidden love between human and mysterious characters but not even one has ‘kicked’ the romance radar inside me. Until Halton Cray.
Halton Cray is a love story that inspired by Charlotte Brontё’s Jane Eyre. I have to admit that this was the main reason I chose to add this book on my tbr list this December. The story started with the heroine of this book, Alexandra Turner, who was kind of ‘forced’ to work part time in a little shop inside Halton Cray, an old building that people believed was haunted by the former heir, Sir Halton Cray. All this happened so sudden and rather strange but she agreed anyway. Meeting an annoying stranger who turned out the curator in Halton Cray, experiencing eerie situations almost everyday, and having a boss who was obviously disliked her didn’t make brave-curious Alex to back off from working there. Later, she even found herself rather enjoying working there for some reasons... or a reason, maybe.
Thomas Rues was the curator in Halton Cray. In Alex’s eyes, Thom was the most irritating man she has ever met. Added with all those strange auras radiated from his direction, Thom became the most evitable guy in Halton Cray’s area. But there was something that oddly pulling Alex closer to him. Being Alex, she broke the spell people had encircled on Thom in her own way that blew away them both.
‘The toughest reflection is that of truth, which is only visible to some.’
God, I want so badly to write more about the story but I don’t know how without exposing some spoilers and I DON’T WANT TO. I want people to start reading this without any further information about the content because this book has so many surprises that will totally blow your minds!
I really had a high expectation on this book. And damn was this book beyond what I wanted! Every page had made me excited and wanted more and more. I felt like throwing my reader across the room and buy a new one everytime the scene became awe-freaking-somely mind-blowing. God, I love every single thing on this book. The characters, both main characters, are so lovable I want to ship them my whole life. Alexandra is one adorable stubborn girl with all her witty persona. Same as her, Thom is also damn witty even though he successfully covered it with his cold appearance. I really really reallyyyyyyyyyy loved the banters between them! Heck, it was damn funny! I had to suppress my urge to laugh out loud while my mom was around. Despite the horror-stricken scenes, I enjoyed every second of it a lot (although I had to read it during days instead of at night because yeah, I am just lame like that). The romance is so strong I LOVE IT!! Here is my favorite quote from the book:
‘Beware!’ spoke the amorous voice to Psyche in the darkness. ‘Beware, my beloved! Seek not to discover my true face or shape, lest thou shalt meet with a very great sorrow. For love cannot dwell where there is no trust.’
God knows what a sucker I am for romance and funny reads. Well, Halton Cray manages to give it all to me. The ending is something beyond your imagination and I LOVE IT SO DAMN MUCH!! Oh God, just how many I’ve said I love this book I just want to say it over and over again…
N.B. Roberts is so brilliant! The joke she slipped inside the story was so funny. The ‘Alex Turner’ one was so hilarious! I am still having a hard time believing this is her debut novel. HALTON CRAY IS DEFINITELY TOO FREAKING AWESOME TO BE A DEBUT NOVEL!!!
God, everyone should read this book! Like… RIGHT. NOW.
My most favorite part of this book is the chapter after epilogue: Excerpt. YES! Halton Cray is the first book of Shadows of the World series. This baby is gonna have a sister called The 13th Baronet. God, asdfhaghlsjdhfg I cannot wait!!

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

December 2, 2014

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!
Stones are just stones and rain is just rain and misfortune is just bad luck.
Truthfully I don't know what to write in my review here for this book. I've never met a book like this ㅡthat telling a story set on long time ago during World War II; that telling every details of the war, the cities, the grief, the mess, the survivors; that telling a lot of agonies but didn't bothering; that telling very little romance yet I could sense the feeling about it is so strong. I'd hesitated several times before I decided to give this book a try. I'd read the blurb over and over again to convince myself that this book had nothing I ever wanted to read on a book. But the minute I'd met Marie-Laure, I'd fallen in love with this book. I'd become so obsessed over this book. On the first day of reading, I had to stop myself on chapter 48 because if I kept going I might skip my sleep. And today ㅡwhich is the day I finished the rest of the book in one sittingㅡ I skipped breakfast and lunch and only stopped five times to drink water because I was so eager to find the ending, yet in the same time I didn't want it to end soon.
All the Light We Cannot See is a really beautiful read. When the story began, it began with a simple background of each roles but somewhere raised a curiosity for the readers. In the middle, the feelings were all mixed up that several times I had to remind myself to exhale and the next time I felt grief, pity, and even smiled on certain parts. But when the story came to an end, it felt like the curtain closed as I turned the last page of the book, leaving me with a content feeling and mind full of imagination and yet it all seemed far and settled more as memories than a feeling. The ending not only concluded the story, but my feelings as well. And I'm glad for that because sometimes it felt uncomfy when the gloomy feeling caused by reading a book haunting you to sleep. But this book did a different thing. It offered a story full of complex situations, driving emotions up and down and in the end it settled down slowly and steady to a calm end, just like a cooling session. And now that I finished the book, I don't really feel sad or happy but more like feeling content in mind.
It is really genius to bring up the focus on these two main character, Marie-Laure and Werner in the middle of the war. How two people with different nations and a very short encounter yet had formed a very tight bound and... damn if it's not touching for anyone who reads this!
The words that Mr. Anthony had chosen were all so simple yet formed very beautiful and meaningful sentences. The metaphors and analogies he made are brilliance. And because I am a romance-freak, I noticed these several sentences which was formed ordinarily yet damn touching and heart-melting:
A shell screams over the house. He thinks: I only want to sit here with her for a thousand hours.
The window glows. The slow sandy light of dawn permeates the room. Everything transient and aching; everything tentative. To be here, in this room, high in this house, out of the cellar, with her: it is like medicine.
Her voice like a bright, clear window of sky. Her face a field of freckles. He thinks: I don’t want to let you go.
It was so simple and the farthest that a boy could think of about a girl who he just met less than a day yet it showed enough what his heart felt to her. Good God...
Well, I guess it will be a while until I will start reading a book again (because my poor eyes really need to rest right now as I write this review right after I finished the book) but as I said it before, I feel content to have read this deeply moving and beautiful book :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Book Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

Listened while reading: Hold on to Me by X Ambassador

Love Letters to the Dead is a debut young-adult novel by Ava Dellaira. As a debut novel, I must say that this book has reached beyond my expectation as a reader. I must say that I chose this book at first simply because of the interesting title and the cover that is really pretty, but once I finished I am so grateful that I’ve read such a beautiful story inside.

Love Letters to the Dead is generally a story about Laurel, a girl who is living a rough life as teenager with broken family, loss of beloved sister, and dark veil of abuse she once experienced. Unlike any other kids, Laurel comes to a teenager life without any stable adult to support her. Her mother left to California two months after her sister, May, died. Laurel lives with her dad who’s incapable of fully supporting her because he himself is still suffering from losing both her daughter and her wife that adjusting into a single parent life is way too hard for him. Her aunt Laurel lives with when she’s not with her dad is a strict religious woman who’s practically love spending more time talking about sins than being a supportive adult to an emotionally-unstable teen. Laurel spends most of her time being a quiet girl at school and a cheerful daughter around his dad. She eats her lunch alone on the fence and shyly taking a peek at the handsome mysterious boy called Sky. Until one day she found herself a group of friends who’s kind of weird and definitely not straight A-students but strangely she felt secure with them and able to talk to without worrying about the pity looks she always got when talking to other people. Despite the constant gloomy aura she got from her life at home, Laurel manages to find little happiness from her strange friends. Even though sometimes her friends got her into troubles, she is okay with that because she never feels blamed around them like what she always feels with her own parents. Laurel often blames herself for May’s dead and refuses to tell people the reason behind it. Eventually she herself was suffered and is still regularly having panic attacks whenever she encounters situation that triggers the past. Sky’s appearance in her life fills the longing feeling to be loved she feels all the time. But not only fills her life, Sky also makes her realize that secrets can’t be hidden forever, that sadness can’t be held alone forever, that she has to stop blaming herself forever.
'But we aren’t transparent. If we want someone to know us, we have to tell them stuff.'
The unique feature of this book is all the story above is not told like how usually a book is written. Love Letters to the Dead, just like the title, is a bunch of love letters to dead person Laurel used to love. Those letters were actually written firstly as an assignment for English class but Laurel poured her heart to the letters and starting to write a very personal side of her into the letter that there’s no way she could turn it in and let the teacher knows. Soon one letter becomes two then two becomes three that Laurel kept writing the letters for a month eventually. The letters are mostly addressed to her and May’s favorite singers, actress, and even to Laurel’s idol, Amelia Earhart. What makes it so good is that Ms. Ava didn’t just randomly choose the ‘dead person’ but every single story Laurel told on her letters actually has connection to the said person. I was surprised that even through the letters, the story is solid and the emotional touches are so clear that I couldn’t help crying in several parts. I really loved one letter addressed to Kurt Cobain where Laurel for the first time felt angry and mad at him for leaving in such a young age, describing the lost chances of being a father to his beautiful daughter, God that’s totally heartbreaking…

To tell the truth, I almost left this book unfinished after the first 20% part of the book. I stopped reading and called my sister to tell about this book that I had no idea where the story was actually led into and what point was being made here. Because, God, what I felt was only gloomy mood and a very down feeling that I felt like curling myself on bed unmoving all day. I personally hate a book that makes me feel gloomy and awfully down but with this book I had this expectation that there must be something behind all this miserable feeling –and I’m actually not kind of person who can leave a book unfinished forever.

And now I’m grateful I had that feeling to keep reading this book! All the miserable feeling is so worth to feel! I got so many lessons learned from this book. And I never met a book that I can relate so much with myself. Well, it’s not that I’m an abuse survivor or anything (and I have a very blessed and beautiful family, thanks God for that), but I really really loved the realization that Laurel reached by the end of writing all those letters. Here I picked my favorite line from this book:
'So maybe when we can say things, when we can write the words, when we can express how it feels, we aren’t so helpless'
God, God, it is so me! I’m not a really vocal person and sometimes I don’t feel like telling people what’s on my mind because in the end they will never fully understand what I really feel unless they experience it themselves. In the end they will just sad-smiling at us and put their hands on the back of ours as if implying that it’s okay to be sad and things will be alright. And we will smile back at them even though we know it’s not cause we just don’t want to be rude. But in this case, Laurel has Sky who’s been through a lot as well in the past so when she opened up to him, the feeling is equal…

The poem in the epilogue is so beautiful I cried a lot (and had to call my sister, again, to tell her how much I love her). I can feel how much Laurel loves her sister, May. The feeling was so real that I cried myself to sleep.

So, despite all the tears caused by this book, I’m going to say that I love this book! A lot. Reading Love Letters to the Dead is like looking back to the past when the first time I decided I love writing. Well, it’s not that I’m a writer now or what but I really love writing. And the reason behind it is clearly stated in this book. Ah, writing this review just makes me fall in love with this book all over again. I just hope that people who decide to read this book can see what I can see from this book. 

A beautifully written book with a lesson about accepting ourselves for who we are and getting over of blaming ourselves for what we’ve done.

I personally want to thanks Ms. Ava for such a beautiful book and I’m hoping to read more of hers in the future :)
'And maybe what growing up really means is knowing that you don’t have to be a character, going whichever way the story says. It’s knowing that you could be the author instead.'
Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Poetry: Friends We Are (not)

I recently joined this cool group on Goodreads called ¡ POETRY ! 
I was mesmerized by the awesome poets there and wanted to join/ruin the awesomeness with my crappy poem (okay, just laugh people, it's fine). I was tempted to submit my poem for December 2014 Goodreads newsletter (this is my second attempt) so I rummaged my old notebooks and found this poem I wrote back then when I was still in high school. I wrote them on bahasa so I translated them and made a change or two to some lines to make it 'shinier' lol...

Two wet eyeballs
Red pupils surrounded by black
He cries weakly, eyes to the sun

In silent I stay
Trying hard to grab him tight
But the sun’s shimmering down
Fast… fast like a light

No words sound fine
But I settle with one

Sorry, I’m sorry deeply

I give you my back when you ask my face, sorry
I leave you my scar when you ask a smile, I’m sorry
I toss you the candle when you ask for warm light, sorry
I take a step away when all you ask is for me to stay, I’m really sorry

It against my will, but
Why you let me anyway

When you stab my back, while I fight your reaper
When you dig my wound, while I call the clown
When you set me afire, while I fumble with lighter
When you proudly sing me elegy, while I hide to wail

That’s you
The more you push me, the meaner you make me
The meaner you got me,
That’s when we graft us with evils dressed like saints
Isn’t this what we want?
Let me be on my way,
I let you go through your way
Until the sun once again rises up
Until we harmonize in sweet rhyme

That we still want a label ‘friend’ each on our minds 

© 2014