KINDRED SPIRITS by Rainbow Rowell

KINDRED SPIRITSthis
by Rainbow Rowell

Source: Free from Bookalicious
Paperback: 62 pages
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (March 2016)

Adelaine Pek’s ratings: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ / 5 hearts

‘Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.’

‘Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?’

‘Maybe.’

If you broke Elena’s heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she’s expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she’s not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels.

Cute.

If I have to choose one word to describe this — very — short story, this is the word I would use. It was the perfect Sunday morning light read, where you are still dressed in your PJs, with a cup of tea or coffee in hand.

Note: This will be a very short review as it is only 62 pages long; how long-winded can I be?

Bear in mind that I am not a fan of romance or chick-lit novels so when I decided to — finally — read this one, I was on the fence about it. But once I was done with it, I was wishing that it was longer. It was not meant to be a full-length novel, but I do feel like it could easily have been one.

The humor, the honesty, and the love that the author captures in this story is exceptional. This book has me smiling and sighing — happily, of course. I adored the theme of fandom and being a fangirl myself, I automatically connected to the main character Elena. And you do not need to love Star Wars to love this (so sue me for not being a fan of this popular franchise).

I loved Elena. She is Vietnamese — first time reading a character of a Vietnamese descent! — has a witty and admirable headstrong personality. And the ending? Oh gosh I LOVED IT. I laughed so hard reading the ending and what I felt was the best conclusion to such a short story.

Though I must say the ‘for older readers’ at the front was a little misleading; I was expecting something crude or R-rated to appear but neither of these elements did. I was a little confused and wondered what is the author’s definition of mature content.

I have never read any books by Rainbow Rowell but after this satisfying experience, I will definitely be checking out her ELEANOR & PARK, FANGIRL and CARRY ON, three of them I have heard very good things about. I would recommend you to pick up this book if you are a fan of this author or if you are looking for something short to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Signing off,
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AUGGIE & ME: THREE WONDER STORIES by Leo Hunt

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by Leo Hunt

Source: Bought
Paperback: 380 pages
Publisher: CORGI (2015)

Adelaine Pek’s ratings: ♥ ♥ ♥ / 5 hearts

You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Wonder is the award-winning story of Auggie Pullman: an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face, who is desperate to fit in.

Julian has always felt uncomfortable around Auggie — but a summer spent with his grandmother in Paris makes Julian see Auggie with new eyes. Christopher is Auggie’s oldest friend — and knows better than most that being part of Auggie’s life comes with its challenges. Charlotte has always been nice to Auggie — but in a year of torn loyalties and damaged feelings, is being nice really enough?

Now read a new side to the Wonder story, from three characters whose lives have been changed by Auggie forever.

I was really excited to get started on this one, seeing as how much I loved reading WONDER and though this book did not blow my socks off, I still enjoyed it very much. Highly recommended you read WONDER before starting on this one.

What I liked about this book is it gave me a different outlook on Julian Albans, Christopher Blake, and Charlotte Cody, the three characters in WONDER that I was curious but never got to learn much about. Since this book is separated into three sections featuring three different main characters, I will be reviewing them one by one starting with…

The Julian Chapter
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
This is my favorite story and the one I have been anticipating to read the most. Mainly ’cause I want to see from the perspective of the bully, what made him do what he did and how he would eventually grow from this Auggie experience. I did not like him in WONDER, the boy who was described as the stereotypical rich kid who gets away with everything, who didn’t feel bad about his actions because he was never punished for anything. But reading this short story has made it very difficult to keep on disliking Julian.

I will not say much but — as expected — you will learn that Julian is the product of his environment in this chapter. I loved that the author does not try to force readers to forgive or sympathize Julian’s side of things, but merely shows that people are often way more than what they seem. This part of the book is equal parts heartbreaking, infuriating, and thought-provoking. To me, the most satisfying part is getting to see that Julian really does have a chance for redemption.

Pluto
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
In this chapter, we get to see the perspective of Christopher, Auggie’s oldest friend. This story alternated between the present day, what is decidedly a bad day for Christopher, and flashbacks of him and Auggie when they were little and also coincides with some of the events in WONDER.

When I first learned that his story is included in this book, I was doubtful if this story was really warranted because he is so far removed from Auggie in the preceding book but I can see why he was included. While the character certainly has some redeeming qualities, I find him to be rather bratty. I get it that he is struggling to find his place and must deal with the emotional turmoil that comes with his parents’ divorce but gosh, he is almost as self-centered as Julian.

Shingaling
♥ ♥
My least favorite compared to the other two. Not that it was bad, it was just not that impressive for me. I never quite liked the character Charlotte; she was not a bad person, she was just … mediocre, a white noise at the background that I can just easily tune out and even if you dangle her with a diamond ring in front of me, I will probably still remain uninterested. Sounds mean, but it is the truth. This was how I felt about her in WONDER and after reading this, I must say my perspective of her improved a little but not in the way it did for me with Julian.

The only part I enjoyed in this chapter is the mystery of the accordion man, where Charlotte bands together with two other female students she never expected to become so close with, in hopes of finding out what happened to a stranger she is used to seeing by the roadside as she grew up. Other than that, I felt the chapter could have been shorter.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read and multiple times it brought tears to my eyes. I can see adults and children alike enjoying this book. Not neccessary but a recommended read, especially if you enjoyed WONDER. I am just a little sad we do not get to see what happens to Auggie the year after and in the future. But I am very glad I picked up this book.

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

Signing off,
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WONDER by Leo Hunt

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by Leo Hunt

Source: Bought
Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: Knopf (February 2012)

Adelaine Pek’s ratings: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ / 5 hearts

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school — until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

I did not know what to expect when I bought this book, a suggestion from the shopkeeper of my favorite bookstore. I did not look it up on Goodreads nor have I heard of this author before, but he promised me that it will be good. And boy, was I glad to have bought it.

This book is a perfect mixture of funny and sad. It is considered a children’s book but to me, this story is so powerful and beautifully written that it transcends genre. I would recommend this to secondary school students, teenagers and adults. So if you opt to skip this book because you think it might be too childish or simple for you, hold your horses and give this book a try, seriously.

We are introduced to August (Auggie) Pullman, who was born with a severe facial deformity and, despite years of surgery, is still left with a face that scares small children and shocks adults. I liked how the author never quite described his face so we are always left wondering, imagining how his face looks like and how bad can it really be to receive such — most of the time — horrified reaction from the people around him. I loved Auggie; always positive despite the constant name-calling and being ostracized by his fellow peers. Sure, he has his down moments as well but for a boy so young, he can be so incredibly wise.

“What’s cool about really little kids is that they don’t say stuff to try to hurt your feelings, even though sometimes they do say stuff that hurts your feelings. But they don’t actually know what they’re saying. Big kids, though: they know what they’re saying. And that is definitely not fun for me.”

This made my heart hurt a bit because it is so true. When we are older, we tend to say the meanest of things and what’s worse? We actually mean them. Why do humans have to be so mean, anyways? Auggie has plenty of good quotes throughout the book and they all pulled at my heartstrings and motivates me to be a better person.

What I particularly love about this book is the switching of point-of-views (POVs), where we are able to see Auggie through the other characters. Usually, I do not favor books that switch POVs in between chapters as they can be choppy and disorientating but somehow, it worked for this one. It is certainly more interesting to see how others view Auggie as he braves through 5th grade.

If I have to choose a favorite character, it would be Via, Auggie’s sister. I can imagine growing up with a brother like that is not easy, especially as a teenager and at that age where she is still discovering new things about herself day by day. I loved Via’s character, she is tough as nails, headstrong, and very protective of her younger brother. But it is rather sad to see how growing up she learned to never complain, to never want or expect anything from her parents, always known that Auggie is first priority since her parents are so over-protective over him. It is even more heartbreaking to see her grow resentful, quietly but surely, and her hating herself for it.

Now for characters that I hated and absolutely mortified by, would be Julian and his mother. Oh gosh, those two are horrible! I cannot say any more than this because then, it would be a complete spoiler so I shall stop here.

This book did bring tears to my eyes and I am sure it will be the same for you. The story is so well-written, each page filled with words that are bound to squeeze your emotions so tightly that you can barely breathe. But at the end of the book, you will find your heart is full with even more empathy, compassion, and love than you thought possible. We expect to be surprised by cruelty, but how wonderful it is to also be surprised by kindness. What I liked the most about this book is the messages it brings, especially one in particular:

“If you act a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.”

Signing off,
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READING CHALLENGE 2017

fotorcreatedI AM BACK FROM THE DEAD!

I admit, shamefully, I feel very guilty for being away for so long — a year of hiatus! I was lazy I was busy with work. Of course, I did some reading here and there (lots of unfinished books, I hate to admit) but I never quite managed to get myself to post up a review.

Since it is a new year and there are plenty of the usual talks about new year’s resolution and goals, I thought to myself: it is high time to get off my lazy arse and get back to working on my blog. And what better way to motivate me to do more reading and post up reviews, but through a reading challenge?

Introducing Estella’s Revenge reading challenge:

#READMYOWNDAMNBOOKS

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What I like about this challenge? It lets me be as hardcore as I want to be (I get to make up my own rules) and helps me reduce my to-be-read (TBR) pile — something I desperately need as I have been buying books over the years and I have failed to read them all. I have no plans to put a book ban on myself because God knows I will break it within the first quarter of the year. However, I have decided to implement this rule where I am only allowed to buy the number of books equivalent to the books I have read from my shelf, eg. if I finished three TBR books, I can buy no more than three new books.

I will be dedicating a page to keep track of my progress which you can find here.

If you are participating in any reading challenges, do share with me your links and we can motivate each other! LET’S READ MORE BOOKS THIS YEAR.

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Signing off,
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