Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: On Grief

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Pride and Prejudice and Passports by Corrie Garrett

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Classic retelling,

Number of pages: 268

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 


Our beloved Jane Austen classic gets a retelling in Pride and Prejudice and Passports. The story is set in the 2016 election that led to Trump becoming US President. Elisa is a US born Latina. Her parents are undocumented and her older sister Noa is a dreamer. As the election looms near, they become more weary of the threat of their family being torn apart.

Continue reading “Pride and Prejudice and Passports by Corrie Garrett”

StarTalk: Where Science, Pop Culture and Comedy Converge | Top Ten Tuesday –26 March: Audio Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. TODAY’S TOPIC IS AUDIO FREEBIE SO I’ve decided to highlight my most favorite PODCAST episodes of StarTalk.

Neil Degrasse Tyson: Our Personal Astrophysicist

StarTalk is a podcast hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson where science, pop culture and comedy converge. Neil frequently invites to StarTalk popular personalities like Katy Perry, Morgan Freeman, Neil Armstrong, and many others from different professions. Questions from the audience are also answered in its segment called Cosmic Queries.

Neil Degrasse Tyson himself wrote science books that bring science closer to the non-scientific community. Here in StarTalk he shares his passion for science and fear of the lack of scientific knowledge of world leaders and teachers and what to do about them.

I guess that’s enough introduction so let’s jump in to my top ten favorite episodes of StarTalk.



The Science Behind “Game of Thrones”

Season 8   Episode 26 | July 14, 2017


Isaac Hempstead Wright speaks about his growing up years while playing his role as Bran Stark in Game of Thrones. Find out how many digits of the number Pi he can dictate. What parts of the of the hit series are real and where the unreal parts are inspired from. DIRE WOLVES ARE REAL!!!!?!

Living in Space, with Scott Kelly

Season 9 Episode 46 | December 7, 2018

In this episode Scott Kelly retells his early life as an underachiever and how he became a naval aviator, test pilot and eventually an astronaut. Listen as he recounts his experiences in one year in space. This episode is a great inspiration to all because it emphasizes that one’s success doesn’t not necessarily depend on his academic performance.

First Man-Celebrating Neil Armstrong

Season 9 episode 39 | October 19, 2018

Watching The First Man is not an excuse to miss out this episode.
Mike Massimino and Neil DeGrasse Tyson talks about the movie and how accurately it portrayed Neil Armstrong. Listen to Neil Armstrong himself describe what beauty he saw during his lunar landing. You’ll also find out here what made him a great mission commander.

Cosmic Queries: Office Hours

Season 8 Episode 37 | September 29, 2017

Listen to Neil and Chuck Nice talk about the most fundamental and important questions in science. Are we alone in the universe? What are stardusts? Would people be more interested to science if TV and movies didn’t portray them as bad characters?

StarTalk All-Stars at NY Comic Con: The Science of Science Fiction

Season 2 Episode 35 | September 12, 2017


Listen to Emily Rice and Chuck Nice discuss with Neil DeGrasse Tyson the real science in science fiction including AI, living in exoplanets and and the future of science in medicine. My favorite part of this episode is the panel discussion where the audience asked great questions. Discussion also led to the topic of dangers of AI. What is more fearsome, sentient AIs or human deliberately creating evil AI? Find out in this podcast.

My Week in Books | WWW Wednesday: 20 March

Today I’ve decided to participate in WWW Wednesday. This weekly meme is hosted by Sam. Rules are simple: Answer the three questions below and share your link to
TAKING ON A WORLD OF WORDS.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Her oval face was beautiful in the extreme, her every feature finely chiseled and exquisite, her eyes large and lustrous and her head surmounted by a mass of coal black, waving hair, caught loosely into a strange yet becoming coiffure. Similar in face and figure to women of Earth, she was nevertheless a true Martian–and prisoner of the fierce green giants who held me captive, as well!

Description from Goodreads

I have always loved the classics. The very first novel I read is a classic and I have been reading classics since then. I also have a fascination with science fiction. I chose to read A Princess of Mars because it’s a sci-fi classic. The Barsoom series inspired sci-fi writers like Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur Clarke. I sure would not want to miss an influential book.

The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman

The last live broadcast on Polish Radio, on September 23, 1939, was Chopin’s Nocturne in C# Minor, played by a young pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman, until his playing was interrupted by German shelling. It was the same piece and the same pianist, when broadcasting resumed six years later. The Pianist is Szpilman’s account of the years inbetween, of the death and cruelty inflicted on the Jews of Warsaw and on Warsaw itself, related with a dispassionate restraint borne of shock. Szpilman, now 88, has not looked at his description since he wrote it in 1946 (the same time as Primo Levi’s If This Is A Man?; it is too personally painful. The rest of us have no such excuse.

Goodreads description

I would like to read more non-fiction and biographies this year. What influenced me to read Szpilman’s memoir is Roman Polanski’s 2002 movie adaptation. Adrien Brody’s performance was staggering and the movie was so heart-breaking.

Szpilman had nothing to eat for so many days when a German soldier made him play the piano. I can’t forget the scene moments before this when the shot shows a can rolling across the floor. It broke my heart.

Recently finished

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

A tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave the author the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

Goodreads description

The Glass Castle is Jeannette Walls’s recollection of her childhood and a testimony about her roots she kept hidden for many years.

We by Yevgeni Zamyatin

15759377

The exhilarating dystopian novel that inspired George Orwell’s 1984 and foreshadowed the worst excesses of Soviet Russia

Goodreads description

It’s claustrophobic and scary. Everyone should read this book at least once. The grim ending was superb.

To read next

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: The Speaker for the Dead, who told the true story of the Bugger War.

Now, long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens’ ways are strange and frightening…again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery…and the truth.

Description from Goodreads

It’s the second book of the Ender’s Game Series. I’ve read the first book last year and have seen the movie as well. There’s no reason not to read its sequel.

Descendants of the Crane by Joan He

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.

Description from Goodreads

Release of Descendants of the Crane was pushed back a week later than it’s original publication date. I requested for an ARC from Edelweiss before its release in the 9th of April. If I don’t get approved, I’ll just buy a copy and put it at the bottom of my TBR list. Twitter is also buzzing about Joan He’s debut novel. I can’t help but be curious. I’m supporting Asian authors as well so I decided to read her book and share my opinions to other readers.


Have your own WWW Wednesday post? Share it with me by commenting in the comment box below.

Yasmina and the Potato Eaters by Wauter Mannaert | Book Review

Genre: Graphic Novel

Written by: Wauter Mannaert

Translated by:Montana Kane

Series: Yasmina and the Potato Eaters, 1

Number of Pages: 144

My Rating: ★★★★☆


Yasmina loves cooking healthy food. Everyday she cooks for her father using ingredients she gathers from her community garden plot. Her life suddenly becomes more a struggle when a large corporation demolishes the vegetable garden to make way for a potato farm. As the story unfolds, Yasmina finds every person buying plastic packed potatoes in frenzy.

Yasmina and the Potato Eaters navigates relevant topics on health, survival, capitalism, family and race. For an 80-page comic, it managed to delve into these topic without using wordy dialog and cramped illustrations. Each page has a lot to say and the drawing are fantastic and meaningful.

While there’s no mention of a backstory, this illustration says so much about Yasmina’s family, particularly the lost of her mother and their ethnicity.
And look at that food! Looks tasty, right?

This pilot volume has a lot of promise that would perk up the interest of readers.

Standalone Books That Need a Sequel | Top Ten Tuesday, 12 March

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl.
Rules: Jana assigns a new topic in advance for each Tuesday.
Create your post and link it back to The Artsy Reader Girl.
Enter your post to the Linky widget on that day’s post so other bloggers can read yours.

Today’s topic is stand-alone books that need a sequel. Here are the ten books that I want sequels written. I don’t usually invest emotions on series but I found some books very satisfying that I crave for follow ups. Open-ended novels are sooo frustrating. I want closure on unanswered questions, too.

Norwegian Wood by haruki murakami

In the opening chapter of Norwegian Wood, we know that Toru’s memory of Naoko is fading. The Beatles’s song Norwegian Wood playing on the airplane stereo triggers his memory of the day Naoko told him about a well that nobody can find. He remembers clearly the scenery but not the face of Naoko whom he loves so much but who never loved him back. He never mentioned anything about Midori Kobayashi. What happened after he phones Midori in the end chapter? Midori is a lovely girl. She has a hunger for love and fights for it. In contrast with Naoko, she is a very strong character. Surely, she deserves a better ending than that Haruki Murakami gave her.

From the end chapter:

Gripping the receiver, I raised my head and turned to see what lay beyond the phone box. Where was I now? I had no idea at all. Where was this place? All that flashes in my eyes were the countless shapes of people walking by to nowhere. Again and again, I called out for Midori from the dead center of this place that was no place.

breakfast at tiffany’s by truman capote

Where is Holly Golightly? Who is she with? Did she find the place she belongs? Up to the end of the book, Holly is still covered with a veil of mystery. The only sign she left was an African-made wooden sculpture.  Albeit her quirks, I still want to see her find happiness.

From the end chapter:

I wanted to tell her about her cat. I had kept my promise; I had found him. It took weeks of after-work roaming through those Spanish Harlem streets, and there were many false alarms — flashes of tigerstriped fur that, upon inspection, were not him. But one day, one cold sunshiny Sunday winter afternoon, it was. Flanked by potted plants and framed by clean lace curtains, he was seated in the window of a warm-looking room: I wondered what his name was, for I was certain he had one now, certain he’d arrived somewhere he belonged. African hut or whatever, I hope Holly has, too.

Matilda by roald dahl

Matilda is an extraordinary girl. She has telekinetic power, naughty but nice. Her character needs further adventures and readers are hungry for more.

Firestarter by stephen king

Makers of the movie adaptation of Firestarter saw a market in it and made a sequel. Unfortunately, part 2 successfully botched it and created a second rate movie instead. It is only Stephen King who can make a decent follow up.

I want to see Charlie find the right people to trust and have somebody to protect. A fire-powered teen would be an interesting character. Hormone-charged superpower? That would totally kick asses.

American gods by neil gaiman

There has been many speculations that Neil Gaiman will write a sequel of American Gods. American Gods is a very fulfilling novel. Packed with interesting characters and lots of thrills that we can’t get enough of. Neil Gaiman, we want more action.

Neil Gaiman is currently busy writing script for Season 2 premiere of American Gods. He’s also working on Good Omens, Norse Mythology and a sequel of Neverwhere. In short, his hands are full.

Let’s just get hope from what he said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

“The big problem I have is having a maximum of one body and one set of typing fingers at any time.”

“I’ll probably start American Gods 2,  if there is still a will to write,” 

I Am legend by richard matheson

I Am Legend is one of the most emotionally charged novel I’ve ever read.  Robert Neville, the only survivor of vampire apocalypse, faced lost many times. He lives alone after losing his family to the vampire virus. He finds a dog and loses it, too.

What I want to see in a sequel is how the evolved vampires fight to restore their humanity. The idea of no hope is just not acceptable. If bacteria can survive perhaps man, too, right?

From the end chapter:

Robert Neville looked out over the new people of the earth. He knew he did not belong to them; he knew that, like the vampires, he was anathema and black terror to be destroyed. And, abruptly, the concept came, amusing to him even in his pain.

Tuck Everlasting by natalie babbit

I am interested in knowing how Winnie Foster lived the rest of her life after knowing the secret of eternal life. Did she stop loving the eternally young boy from her childhood? What events led her to choose the life she lived? Natalie Babbit wrote a wonderful novel that makes its readers contemplate about life.

The little prince by antoine de saint-exupery

The Little Prince is one of the rare books that are loved and treasured by children and adult alike.   The melancholic ending somehow leaves the reader disheartened. Perhaps a teeny weeny message from outer space will suffice?

From the end chapter:

Wait for a time, exactly under the star. Then, if a little man appears who laughs, who has golden hair and who refuses to answer questions, you will know who he is. If this should happen, please comfort me. Send me word that he has come back.

memoirs of a geisha by arthur golden

All her life, she wanted to become a geisha to get closer to the man she loves. What would be the meaning of life after Sayuri’s pursuit of love succeeded? I also want to a novel of forgiveness after this years-long love chase. Can Nobu-san, a naturally proud person, ever forgive her?

Me Before you by jojo moyes

After You comes after Me Before You. I didn’t like the premise of Me Before You when its movie adaptation was released. I went against my judgement and watched the movie. To my surprise I really enjoyed the movie. And the book was even better. I’m a sucker for romance novels, but Me Before You was something else. Like Louisa Clarke, the novel surprised me. It has life lessons, love story, forgiveness, self-discovery and humor. After You is not a sequel that it deserves. I want a better one.


What stand-alone books you wish had a sequel? What did you think about my list? Let me know by dropping your comments below.

Beat these Behemoths

We all have that long book (books) that we’ve been meaning to finish but never actually pulled off from the shelf because of our busy schedule (or whatever excuse we can think of). I’ll be honest, War and Peace has been in my TBR list for many years now not because I have a pressing work schedule but simply because I am intimidated by its sheer length.

Committing to a lengthy novel is scary, too. We don’t want a disappointing ending after investing a long time reading it, do we? I have read only one book in the list myself, i.e. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, and I gave up at about 35% through Stephen King’s it.

I have collated here very long novels that, according to critics and popular opinion, are worthy of our time. Check them out and feel free to drop your own suggestions in the comments section below. 👇

  • War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
  • Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  • It, Stephen King
  • A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  • The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor M Dostoyevsky
  • Middlemarch, George Eliot
  • The Stand, Stephen King
  • 1Q84, Haruki Murakami
  • The Hunchback of Notredame, Victor Hugo
  • The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
  • Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
  • Underworld, Don Delillo
  • Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
  • 2666, Roberto Bolaño
  • Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  • In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust
  • Black Lamb and Gray Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia
  • The Man Without Qualities, Robert Musil
  • The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  • Life and Fate, Vasily Grossman
  • The Power Broker, Robert card
  • Shogun, James Clavell
  • Canopus in Argos Archives, Doris Lessing Elena Ferrante
  • Jerusalem, Alan Moore

I have read The Da Vinci Code and other books by Dan Brown. They are quite long but I find his style very easy to read. I actually managed to read his books in just a day.

What long books do you want to read but never had the courage to actually read? Have I missed great long books? Let me know by dropping your comments below.

Book Review | The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time


The Curious Incident of the Dog
in the Night-Time

Mark Haddon

ISBN 9781400032716
Contemporary Fiction, Coming-of-Age, Domestic Drama
226 pages


5star

Literary Awards

Whitbread Award for Novel and Book of the Year (2003), Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (2003), McKitterick Prize (2004), Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction (2003), Exclusive Books Boeke Prize (2004), ALA Alex Award (2004), Zilveren Zoen (2004), Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book Overall (2004), Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award (2004)


Fifteen-year old Christopher Boone loves mathematics, physics, order and mysteries.  While he is very good in math, he has very little understand of human emotions. He doesn’t want to be touched and he doesn’t understand metaphors or simile; he doesn’t like the colors yellow and brown; he bases the quality of the day on colors of cars he sees on the the street: 5 red cars in a row for a Super Good day, 4 red cars in a row for a Good Day, 3 red cars in a row for Quite Good Day and 4 yellow cars in a row for a Black Day. During Black Days, he refuses to eat food and doesn’t talk to anyone.

When he finds Mrs. Shears’ dog killed in her backyard, he makes it his mission to find the killer. Using Sherlock Holmes as his inspiration he sets out to the neighborhood to solve the mystery. His adventure leads him to London and ultimately makes him come to terms with the turmoil that is his parents’ marriage.

Mark Haddon made a remarkable narrative using the voice of a fifteen-year old autistic boy who perceives the world differently. The effect is a clearer understanding of the mind that is often misconstrued by society.

Here is an excerpt from the book that I find funny. While the joke might be funny or not to the readers, the hilarity comes not from the joke itself but the idea that Christopher believes that it is a good joke.

There  are  three  men  on  a  train.  One  of  them  is  an  economist  and  one  of  them  is  a  logician  and  one  of them is a mathematician. And they have just crossed the border into Scotland (I don’t know why they are going to Scotland) and they see a brown cow standing in a field from the window of the train (and the cow is standing parallel to the train).

And the economist says, “Look, the cows in Scotland are brown.”
And the logician says, “No. There are cows in Scotland of which one at least is brown.”
And the mathematician says, “No. There is at least one cow in Scotland, of which one side appears to be brown.”

And it is funny because economists are not real scientists, and because logicians think more clearly but mathematicians are best.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is equally poignant, funny and  inspiring. Albeit being hilarious most of the time, it has so much to say for a short novel. Young adult fiction fans should not miss this exceptional love story of a man and his son.

This is the debut novel of Mark Haddon. He is also an illustrator and worked with autistic individuals in his earlier career.

There are betrayals of war that are childlike compared to our human betrayals during peace. The new lover enters the habits of the other. Things are smashed, revealed in new light. This is done with nervous or tender sentences, although the heart is an organ of fire.

A love story is not about those who lose their heart but about those who find that sullen inhabitant who, when it is stumbled upon, means the body can fool no one, can fool nothing–not the wisdom of sleep or the habit of social graces. It is a consuming of oneself and the past.

The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

By living our lives, we nurture death. True as this might be, it was only one of the truths we had to learn. What I learned from Naoko’s death was this: no truth can cure the sadness we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see that sadness through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sadness that comes to us without warning.

Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami