November wrap-up

This has been a very productive month for me – I have read a total of ten books!

I have hosted a giveaway around the third week and written my first book review in this blog, too. Along with social engagements, I am glad to be able to read a lot. Now, I only have eight more books to read before I reach my 2012 reading challenge. Yay!

To cut the chase, here are the books I have read this November.

1.       A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

suns

Rating: 4/5

I bought a hardbound copy of this book on sale in a shopping mall near my home. The author was the one who wrote The Kite Runner and I thought it would be good to read his other work. However, it took me months before I finally had the chance; I mean time, to finally read it.

When I finished the novel, I felt raw, like someone scraped parts of my skin. It was a beautifully written novel set in a country where freedom and rights of women were, more often than not, repressed. The plot and the characters were believable and I remember studying something with similar nature in my subjects in Political, Economic, Geography, as well as Cross-cultural Communications.

Hosseini masterfully described what women in that place and time were facing. He filled my mind with visions of Afghanistan during the war and the terrors women had experienced during that time. A historical fiction at its best with a woman’s tragedy of a life, this novel made my heart constricted for almost 70% of its pages – I felt being in the shoes of the main character and wanted to scream at the injustice of it all. In the end, I found myself crying my eyes out.

2.       Art Geeks and Prom Queens by Alyson Noel

art geeks

Rating: 2/5

I have read The Immortals series by Alyson Noel prior to this book and I liked it. That is why I tried reading this chick-lit novel and found myself a surprise.

Unlike The Immortals, this book did not make me think; everything was so predictable, even a middle-schooler can actually create the storyline. Perhaps because it was your typical high school story where the plot revolves around cheerleaders, quarterbacks, geeks, and a new girl in town. She just echoed tons of “Life in High School” stories and tweaked some points to make the story her own. I would go as far as to say that it was like a novel version of Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan. Boy, was I disappointed.

3.       An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

quinn

Rating: 4/5

I love Julia Quinn and after reading a heavy drama in the form of Thousand Splendid Suns, I wanted to go back to my comfort zone and read historical fiction. I knew I wouldn’t go wrong with Quinn and she never disappointed me. I have finished this book with a smile on my face and thought that Prince Charming and Cinderella stories can also happen to anyone.

4.       A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

a rogue

Rating: 3/5

My sickness is when I started reading a historical romance novel, I couldn’t stop. So after a work from Julia Quinn, I tried Sarah MacLean. I haven’t read any of her books so I decided to try one. A Rogue by Any Other Name is basically a story of revenge turned into love. Well, that’s expected for a romance novel, but still. I enjoyed reading it though I felt like it needed a lot of things to improve. First, the hero must have a character make-over. I felt he was portrayed as too immature for his age in the novel. Second, there must be more history of how the conflict started so I could understand it better. I found it confusing when the hero and the heroine’s father wanted to shoot each other over a grudge made since they were little. I deserve to read a well written book, right?

5.       Lumayo Ka Nga sa Akin by Bob Ong

bob ong

Rating: 2/5

It had been too long since the last time I read Filipino literature. It’s not that I am not patriotic or something, but I felt that those novels published recently were corny and unoriginal. However, I like this author, Bob Ong, who made an audience by writing anecdotes only experienced by most Filipinos. As a result, many have bought his works as most of us can relate to what he was talking about. So when he published his recent offer, Lumayo Ka Nga sa Akin (Go Away from Me), many people joined the crowd of being a Bob Ong fan.

One of them is my colleague. She bought this book and after reading it, decided to share it to us. I then coined it as “The Sisterhood of the Travelling Book” as it indeed passed down from one member of our circle to another. When it was my turn, I eagerly started reading it and was immediately disappointed after a few pages.

Perhaps it was because he was talking about a different topic than his previous books so I can say I got used to his way of writing. In this book, he was stereotyping Filipino movies. He pointed out his criticisms by creating a storyline which was supposed to show how our movies are doing.

Bob Ong was known for creating humorous stories about Filipino culture and traditions so most of his readers are after that. However, in this new novel, it seems that he was trying too hard to sound funny, but it didn’t reach across. And I wasn’t the only one to notice that.

6.       Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

angel

Rating: 4/5

When I was in university, I have read all the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare and I love it. Now, in the release of the Infernal Devices series, I wanted to try my luck and taste more of Clare’s passion in writing. Clockwork Angel is the first installment in the series and I have noticed that it is a prequel to the Mortal Instruments saga. It was an adventure-filled story with a twinge of drama and romance that wouldn’t let me put it down. The characters were so alive in my mind that I could imagine Will vividly and found myself in love with that imagination. 🙂

7.       Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

prince

Rating: 5/5

After the first installment comes the second, of course. When I knew that the second book was also out, I didn’t think twice of acquiring it, too. I read it immediately after the Angel, a few hours in between I guess. The story had built up and I loved every page of it! Especially the quotations from great literary writers of all time!

Clare put characterization and love triangle plot in the next level. The character of the heroes and heroines were strongly described and was the driving force on how they act and think in the book. It was rich. The love triangle story didn’t grow old either. In some novels, the romantic tug-of-war would be extremely boring, but it was the direct opposite in the novel. For once, I didn’t envy the heroine for having two amazing boys in her side. If I were her, I would be confused, too.

8.       The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

the catcher

Rating: 4/5

Many people are talking about this novel, but I bet most of them haven’t read this. I turned the first pages with the thought, “What is this?” It was beyond my expectation. It was a whirling story of a teenager full of angst and identity crisis. I couldn’t help myself but relate it to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and no, I wasn’t only talking about the way the two were written. I admit my head ached while reading The Catcher in the Rye. I found it hard to follow Holden’s train of thought and at some point, I felt scared that I asked myself, “Am I this confusing?”

However, in the end I applaud the author of being able to capture a teenager’s state of mind. I wasn’t like that during my teenage years, far from it actually, but I somehow understand more where others were coming from.

9.       I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere by Anna Gavalda

anna gavalda

Rating: 3/5

My friend and colleague lent me one of her books for the intention of helping me pick up a lesson or two about dating. It was originally in French, and I was a bit uncertain if I must read it. Some translated works turned out garbage, you know.

But this novel was different. It was actually a collection of short stories with the title as the theme. I enjoyed reading them and had a good laugh for some, but as I was drawing near the last story, I had this sudden heaviness in my chest that I couldn’t ignore. When I closed the cover to mark another finished book, I felt depressed and lonely. How I wish someone were waiting for me somewhere, too.

10.   The Torturer’s Daughter by Zoe Cannon

zoe cannon

Rating: 5/5

I won a copy of this book over a giveaway from a blogger friend. I have read the book and asked the author, who also contacted me during the giveaway, if I could do an interview with her. She kindly agreed so I decided to post it here in my blog together with my review. You may find it here:

The Torturer’s Daughter interview and review

I recently finished The Drought, but it wouldn’t count as a November read because I finished it on December 1. Haha! Well, the good news is you won’t have to wait for the first week of January for my December wrap-up because I will be posting my review on this novel within this week. And oh, watch out for a surprise!

What books have you read recently? If you are in a reading challenge like me, did you already finish your goal? Please share your thoughts because I love to read them!

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52 thoughts on “November wrap-up

  1. Hello! I dunno how you stumbled upon my blog, but I’m glad you did — now I’ve found another “kindred spirit” here in blogosphere. 😀 I’m reading “Catcher in the Rye” now, but I’m still in the first few chapters. “A Thousand Splendid Suns” seems intriguing. Might put that next in my reading list. Other stuff I’m reading now — well, a friend introduced me to a short story writer named O. Henry. I’m finishing up “Strictly Business”. I so love his twists at the end.

    1. Hi, Mari Anjeli! I think I stumble upon your blog because you are my kababayan. Am I right? I’m glad to know that you are reading The Catcher in the Rye and you are free to let me know your feeling about the book. I won’t go as far as to recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns, but you might try his other book, The Kite Runner.

      Is O. Henry good? I am trying to read other short stories and poems like that of Tennyson, but I think with lots of books to read, I might start that conquest next year.

      1. Yep. Kababayan! I’m in Malaysia now, though. The Kite Runner — I’ve seen the film. Quite heavy, right? Well, we’ll see what would be next in my reading list. Got to finish up The Catcher in the Rye first. 😀

        1. Wow. Working in Malaysia, eh? Cool. I am planning of seeking greener pasture myself, but I still don’t know where though. I haven’t seen the movie adaptation. I guess I would read the book first.

          Good luck in finishing The Catcher in the Rye. It is a thin book, but not that light! 🙂

    1. Hello there. We are in the same page. I love reading and nothing can replace its number one post in my heart. However, I am trying to write my thoughts and ideas inspired by reading and hopefully I am doing a good job.

      You may share your reading experiences, too!

    1. Good luck in completing the challenge, Shruti! I have eight more books left. I have read Nicholas Sparks and I love his books. However, most of them are tear-jerker and after I had a one week nightmare when I finished Dear John, I haven’t braved to read any other novels from him though.

      I’m afraid I don’t know about Susan Mallery.

      1. if u love romance and looking for happily ever after..susan is the one to watch out for….

        I am in love with nicholas sparks:P:P blush blush

        I guess i have more than 8 left…got to check got to check…

  2. I’ve been curious about “A Thousand Splendid Suns” as I liked “The Kite Runner” a lot. I will definitely be reading it now. Fun and interesting reviews!

  3. Great reviews Monica! I have not read any of those stories – though there are some that are on my ‘to read’ list: Catcher in the Rye, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and now The Torturer’s Daughter. 🙂 As you know I was writing for most of November, but I did get the chance to read “The Secret Keeper, which was great!

    1. Thanks a lot, Heather! Please try to read those and more 🙂 I haven’t tried joining writing novel challenges like you, but I can imagine it can be tasking , not to mention, time consuming. Now that Nano is over, you may go play catch-up in reading. I would love to read The Secret Keeper soon. Thanks again for that one!

  4. Love. Love. Love Cassandra Clare. Such a big fan (: Glad you loved the books! Who would you pick though, if you absolutely had to choose between Will and Jem? I love them both but I must admit that I’m a Wessa shipper xD

      1. Oh I know! I’ve been anticipating it’s release since last year when Clockwork Prince came out…was it last year? Anyways….ahhh I seriously need to know what happens to them! Ahh I’m okay with you, Jessa shipper 🙂 I just want both Jem and Will to be happy! Poor Tessa though, since she is mortal she’ll have to watch them die, unless, one of them lives forever and is a Silent Brother! :O

        1. I honestly don’t know about their publication as I read both last November only hehe 🙂 Yes, I am curious as to how Tessa would do it. For pity and convenience, or for that strong emotion? Oh, I would be confused, too! I like the living forever thing though being a Silent Brother? No way, hi-way! hahaha

  5. I love Alyson Noel…I haven’t read her contempory stuff. I have read The Immortals, The Riley Bloom series and the first two of The Soul Seekers series…I’m looking at going through her back catalogue at some stage. oooh I still haven’t read Clockwork Prince.

    1. I loved The Immortals series and after reading Art Geeks, I suggest for her to continue writing paranormal stories. In my opinion, chicklit doesn’t agree with her. I haven’t read The Riley Blooms and Soul Seekers, but would like to try when I have time.

      Please, please try reading Clockwork Prince!

  6. Wow, you did it again. A whole new list of books that I have to find and read because they sound so wonderful. I have never even heard of these authors before. I think you just expanded my Christmas wish list. Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Vicki. I hope I encouraged others to read more and try those books I rated high. Oh my, your Christmas wish is growing, eh? So is mine! I wish there is a reader Santa to gift us with these printed words. 🙂

      I have an ongoing promo for the book The Drought. You may see my other post where you can download an e-copy of the novel for FREE.

  7. I’m almost finished reading “Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior”. It is excellent. In his own words the reader can feel the presence of the great designer all around. I’ve gotten insights into his creative process, his great love for his staff and the inner workings of a great couture house. There’s also a little fashion history tucked in there, too. Dior comes across as a very warm, affectionate person and a master of his art as well.

    1. I am amazed at how others like non-fiction. I have read a few and found it not my liking. Still, I am glad that others enjoy them. That one by Dior seems interesting. As a fashionista, you may be able to get some tips from him. 🙂

  8. Waaa I like the same books… and I had the same feelings with you abou a thousand splendid suns… !!!
    But I didn’t know Cassandra Clare…. so I am wikipediading it LOL! and I think my Kindle will be kindling tonight!

    1. Hello there, Treliz. Wow! It is nice to know someone who love the same books. I admit I am an eclectic reader and doesn’t have a favorite genre, really, but it is still nice that you like what I also like. Please try Cassandra Clare. The City of Bones, the first in the Mortal Instruments series, will be out in the movies next year.

      Wow. Good thing you have a Kindle then! 🙂

  9. I personally enjoyed The Kite Runner more than A Thousand Splendid Suns, although both books were good. As an American, I felt like Hosseini did an outstanding job making me realize that the Afghani people were just as terrorized by the Taliban when they were in Afghanistan as we were during the 9/11 attacks.

    1. Hello there, Rebecca. Honestly, I haven’t read The Kite Runner though I have heard a lot about it. Many shared your opinion that they liked it better than the Suns. As a Filipino whose country had been colonized for 400 years (and I am not kidding), I can imagine how the Afghans felt. 🙁

      1. Oh my goodness you need to read it!!!!!

        Are you in the Philippines now? My husband’s best friend is Filipino, has lived there off an on, coming to the U.S. in 7th grade but going back a few times to live, and his girlfriend still lives there now.

        1. Do you promise it would be that great a book? Then I will, as soon as I get a copy! Hahaha.

          Yes, I am in the Philippines and I am a Filipina. Oh, it is nice to know others who have Filipino friends. Many dubbed our race as friendly and very hospitable so it is not a wonder your husband has a Filipino best friend. Have you been to my country?

          1. I have never been. I’ve been to a few other countries, but not the Philippines. I’ve only heard one negative stereotype about Filipinos, which mainly involves some women seducing foreign men for profit. But I think that’s probably something that happens in MANY countries, including America! I’ve only met nice Filipinos!

  10. wow, you’ve read quite a variety over the last month! I’m not in a reading challenge, but I have read a few things this month (most of which were either graphic novels or short stories).

  11. “Catcher In The Rye’ is impossible not to love! OUt of other book on your list I only read ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ and liked it a lot. It’s beautifully written although the story is deep and tragic… Thanks for your reviews!

    1. Thanks for your appreciation, Lexa. I admit that Holden got to me and he is a friend I once knew. Have you read any other books by JD Salinger?

      I will try The Kite Runner, too. Do you also like it? It is by Khaled Hosseini, too.

      1. I haven’t read any other Salinger’s work and ‘The Kite Runner’ I saw a movie 🙂 Don’t think I will want to read the book as I know the story and the movie was quite vivid! But I advise to watch it.

    1. Yes, ten books and I feel I haven’t read enough. At this moment, I need to read seven more books to finish my reading challenge, and there are only 24 days left for 2012! I must read fast. 😀

      Wow. Good thing you have read it, too. I will read To Kill a Mockingbird next time. Have you tried that?

  12. Wow, you were productive! On your list above, I’ve only read Catcher in the Rye back when I was a teen. I thought it was an okay book. I’m used to reading novels from that general era in time, so the disjointedness of Holden’s thoughts didn’t bother me. I think I might re-read this one soon…I’ve been wondering what my take on it would be now that I’m an adult. Great post.

    1. Thanks, Nicole! I am a bit shy to admit that I haven’t read this when I was younger. In my country, this wasn’t a required reading. Still, I am glad that I have read it.

      You read books like that? Wow. Now, I admire you and your mental strength. I like The Catcher in the Rye, but Holden’s train of thoughts are exhausting to follow. I felt like mentally harassed with that. But will I read something of a similar genre again? I will definitely try.

      Yes, please try to read it again, too 🙂

      1. I’ve read a few Kerouac books. He tends to go on in long streams of thought in his books. It takes awhile to get a hold of the lingo, but I’ve re-read a few of his books and always pick up something new each time.

        I think the hardest book I ever read was The Sound and The Fury. That one is tough because the timeline of events shifts, even within the same paragraph.

Share your thoughts, I would love to read them!