10 best reads of 2020 (so far)

This week’s The Artsy Reader’s Top Ten Tuesday is actually about “Books that Make Me Hungry (They could have food items on the cover, foods in the title, be about foodies or have food as a main plot point… they could be cookbooks or memoirs, etc.)”.

I checked my Goodreads account and figured that I would not be able to satisfy the prompt hence I took this turn. I will be featuring 10 of the best books I’ve read this year (so far!), instead. Please forgive me. 🙂

Just a quick story, back in January, I set my Goodreads Challenge 2020 to 24 books only. This is because in 2019 I was three books short of fulfilling my target reads for the year which is the same number. And then the pandemic happened which forced me to live alone as an expat in a foreign land for almost six months now.

I took refuge in reading so till date, 45 books have served as my company this year. And here are the most amazing so far:

The Remains of the Day

1. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Not a fan of classics but this one changed my mind. It is smooth and reflective and touching, all at the same time.

The Secret Life of Bees

2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I love how Sue Monk Kidd was able to bring depth to each of the character in this book, and incorporate the lovely bees in it.

Dream Work

3. Dream Work by Mary Oliver

If you are looking for quality poems, this book has them.

Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table

4. Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table by Stephen Westaby

Have learned a lot about heart diseases and the lives that have been affected by such in this book. It is interesting to know the story and what is going inside the surgeon’s mind as well.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

5. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

I love how this provided me with the view of a life I was not aware of, the tea-pickers of ancient China. Tender and touching.

A Woman Is No Man

6. A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

This is a book all women of color should read. It is heartrending and powerful

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Suggested by my sister-in-law, this novel is a quick read because it will keep you on turning pages after pages because it is THAT intriguing.

Britt-Marie Was Here

8. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Backman is my new favorite author. Britt Marie has his signature humor, sarcasm, and softness.

Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry

9. Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou

Maya is Maya and her words will always be aflame with passion and hope.

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family

10. Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom

Leaving me in tears, as always, Mitch’s new non-fiction is a beautiful reminder of how parenthood can change one’s heart, and grief as well.

Have you read any of these books? What are your best reads of 2020 so far? Feel free to share in the comment box, with your TTT, too!

09.01.2020
©2020 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photos via The Artsy Reader and Goodreads
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

10 books i loved but never reviewed

After a quick check on my Top Ten Tuesday tab, I’ve figured my last entry was June 7, 2016 (four years ago!!!) where I shared the 10 reasons why I love reading. I cannot believe that it has been that long ago as I still vividly have the joyful memory of revisiting the books I’ve read to be able to submit my entry for the week.

Now that I think I have a lot of time (and I need a lot of distraction and source of fun to keep my mind sane), I am going back to this block to make my reading heart happy.

So, after almost 300 books, here are the ten books I loved but never reviewed (some intentionally, some just because I’m pure lazy).

1. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (The book that changed and will continue to change my life.)
Tuesdays with Morrie

2. Para Kay B (o kung paano dinevastate ng pag-ibig ang 4 out of 5 sa atin) by Ricky Lee (The Filipino writer I look up to.)

3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (A book that can make you giggle and cry in the gentlest way and with the simplest words possible.)

I’ve shared five quotes I loved from this book here: LINK

4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Craziest and most unforgettable somehow-whodunnit I’ve ever read.)

Gone Girl

5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (The best YA I’ve ever read. Tender and odd and warm for the heart.)

6. Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore (Perfect read to get introduced to the epic writers of India. Exquisite poems await those whose willing to travel through time with this book.)

7. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (Never thought a heavy science non-fiction book can be this engrossing.)

8. Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry by Maya Angelou (Her words prove that she is a phenomenal woman, through and through.)


9. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (ONE. OF. THE. BEST. BOOK. ONE. CAN. EVER. READ!!!)

10. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom (My love for this story goes beyond my love for Albom. This book’s twists and turns had me staring at the ceiling for a minute or two, letting what happened sink in. It’s a pure, poignant story.)

Want a sneak peek of this book? You can see my 10 beloved quotes from this book here: LINK.

08.11.2020
©2020 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo via Unsplash
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

In response to That Artsy Ready Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday today:

August 11: Books I Loved but Never Reviewed

Book Review: Curse Breaker: Enchanted

Curse Breaker: Enchanted

“A fall doesn’t break you.”

58th Curse Breaker: Enchanted by Melinda Kucsera

Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤ (BEST, GREAT read!)

What is it about:  Secrets threaten, but magic kills.

Plagued by sanity-twisting magic, Sarn must unravel a deadly mystery. But he’s prevented at every turn because his life is not his own. Haunted by one of the victims, Sarn must find out what happened before the ghost drives him mad.    

As plans collide beneath ensorcelled boughs, one thing is certain. If Sarn can’t get his magic under control, he’ll never discover why enchanted trees committed murder. How far is he willing to go to find the answer?

The search might cost more than his sanity. Exposing the truth might claim his life and destroy the secrecy protecting his son from a killer. Something lurks in the enchanted forest and its sights are set on Sarn and the magic in his blood.  

First in a new series, Curse Breaker: Enchanted is a fast-paced, character-driven fantasy tale with a murderous twist. Sarn’s story unfolds over three action-packed days in his double life leading to a breathtaking finale.

What I Love:  This book is made of love. A kind of love which has transcended and was honed by time. A kind of love you will feel oozing out each and every beautifully-crafted line.

You will feel it as you read each chapter, as the characters were introduced, as the twists and turns were unveiled.

The plot, the setting, the characters are concrete. The descriptions are both enchanting and vivid. The big revelation caught me (pleasurably) off guard!

As a poetic fangirl, the internal rhymes and the haunting warnings written as poems are a true delight.

It is also no secret that I love Sarn, no matter how mad and insane he is, and his adorable son Ran. Their moments together in this book are almost always heart tugging.  This will lead me to my most loved part of this book….

It is indeed an epic fantasy, but it also captured both the beauty and the chaos of reality and humanity.

The struggle of a single father, the innocent love of a child, the hardships of someone illiterate, the depth of hurt of friendship betrayed, the injustices and so much more were all tackled in this novel.

It’s a lengthy read worth your time. And the cliffhanger ending will make you want to know more.

What I Don’t Love Much: This is about me and not about the author. I am not so fan of big words (because English is not actually my native tongue). For several times, I searched some words in the dictionary to be sure I got the meaning right. (facepalm)

Wise Words:  “People tended to give the religious and the crazies a wide berth. :

“A fall doesn’t break you.”

“We prevent the tragedies we can and mourn the ones we can’t. You have to let it go. Obsessing over what happened will drive you crazy, but it won’t bring them back. Nothing you do can bring them back. You can’t turn back time. You can’t undo yesterday or the day before. Let them go.”

Click to order Curse Breaker: Enchanted on Amazon Today!

Available in eBook (order now) and paperback (9.27.16), (audio edition – TBA)

About the author:

Image result for melinda kucsera twitter

Melinda Kucsera  the writer behind In Media Res.

By day, I’m a project manager for IT at the academic journal publisher, Mary Ann Liebert Inc. I support the websites for two trade journals: GEN and Clinical OMICs.

By night, I am posting to my website, MelindaKucsera.com, in memory of my sister. I am the author of the novella Stars and Angels Sing and the Curse Breaker Saga (get book 1, Curse Breaker: Enchanted from Amazon today).

I write serial adventure stories in high fantasy (or science fiction). The ongoing stories are:

  1. Quest 
  2. The Curse Breaker Saga
  3. Aerials
  4. (Re) Quest – a retelling of Quest
  5. The Lord of the Sea.

I also write short stories. Find them all here.

I have one story to tell about a place called Shayari and the people who live there.

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.”

38th Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤ (BEST, GREAT read!)

What is it about: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

What I Love: Bold. Brutal. Cringe-inducing yet filled with almost prose poetic beautiful lines.

It hits the heart hard and it makes you feel the character’s agony, hope, anguish. Your heart will ache for them and that’s how great books are. They make you feel by presenting truths that you don’t know yet. They make you think. They make you care.

This will make you emotionally tired. A tiredness that is so worth it.

What I Don’t Love Much: Nothing.

Wise Words: “Sometimes there is such beauty in awkwardness. There’s love and emotion trying to express itself, but at the time, it just ends up being awkward.”

“Was it harder to die, or harder to be the one who survived?”

“Whether love of friend, love of country, love of God, or even love of enemy—love reveals to us the truly miraculous nature of the human spirit.”

“I planted a seed of hatred in my heart. I swore it would grow to be a massive tree whose roots would strangle them all.”

“You stand for what is right, Lina, without the expectation of gratitude or reward.”

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Book Review: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary

“It was a mistake,” you said. But the cruel thing was, it felt like the mistake was mine, for trusting you.”

37th – The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤ (BEST, GREAT read!)

What is it about: How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

What I Love: A book is great when I somehow wished I who wrote it. That’s how I feel for this masterpiece.

It is indeed a dictionary of love and you really have to decipher the story in each and every word (beginning from a to z).That’s what I love about it. It’s engrossing and intriguing.

Plus! Heart breaking!

What I Don’t Love Much: Nothing

Wise Words: “People often say that when couples are married for a long time, they start to look alike. I don’t believe that. But I do believe their sentences start to look alike.

“You can be separate from a thing and still care about it.”

“Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.”

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Listen By Sarah Doughty: An ARC Review

An enchanting page-turner packed with romance, action, and real-life lessons that even non- Paranormal and Fantasy fans (like me) will ENJOY!

What is it about: When vampires Liam and Jon go missing, it’s up to Aisling Green and her friends to find them, but doing so and surviving what awaits won’t be easy.

Battling against things she cannot fight isn’t something Earthen witch Aisling Green is used to, but she must act quickly and outsmart the one that wants her dead and save the lives of her friends before it’s too late.

As they follow the trail, they rescue a most unlikely person, and uncover a deeper, more sinister plot. With the lives of the two vampires on the line, they must fight for their lives, try to rescue their friends, and stop the evil plans. In the face of so much danger and uncertainty, they are forced to go to war and make a discovery that will change everything. The question then becomes at what price will they be forced to pay to survive?

What I Love: I love that I enjoyed this book even when I am not naturally a fan of paranormal more so epic fantasy! That is quite a testament that my dear friend Sarah Doughty is indeed a gifted wordsmith.

I love that this book has the right mix of themes, love, friendship, family, bravery and magic. It is a page turner because you will never be able to guess what will happen next.

I love that apart from being a third part of an epic series, Listen can stand on its own. Done flawlessly, Sarah Doughty was able to give its readers essential background snippets that make new readers understand the story well.

I love that her main character is one brave and courageous woman and that her leading man is a sensitive but strong-willed guy. They indeed a perfectly crafted pair.

I love that Sarah Doughty’s group of secondary characters have their own story and complexities. That is maybe why the book will not be boring because it is not just about the endearing couple and main characters Aisling and Connor. ❤

I love that it has left on me some important reminders: that greed for power will destroy no one but you, that you can have a non-blood related family, and that struggles can make you tougher, braver and better.

What I Don’t Love Much: Because of Stephen King’s book On Writing, I must say that I am not that fan of sentences constructed with “was”. There are a couple of this in this book BUT these doesn’t destroy the beauty of this book. It’s just me.

Rating:  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ (GOOD READ, definitely!) If a not-so-fan of fantasy and paranormal enjoyed Listen by Sarah Doughty, I am sure you will too! So… I’d give this book four hearts so you better read it!

Listen (Earthen Witch #3) by Sarah Doughty will be available here for FREE on October 03!!!


About the author: 

“My name is Sarah, and I’m not your average writer.

The night calls to me in moonlit whispers and my daydreams answer.

I suffer from extreme complex PTSD, depression, and debilitating anxiety. And if I don’t have a migraine, I have a headache. Every. Single. Day. Though I am terrified of the night, crowds, and much more, this darkness has become my home.

Conjuring words from the ether is like breathing — my weapon — my therapy. It allows me to weed through all the pain, in an effort to find myself again.

If writing is my breath, then my books are my life. They are a way for me to escape my mind and enter another, to experience an amazing, magical world and heal at the same time. I’ve shared them online for anyone who wants to read them — for free, to offer someone else hope, or the same, temporary escape as they did for me. Read a little more about them here.”

Recent Five Star Reads

12c69-toptentuesday

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”― Jorge Luis Borges


What’s a paradise
without
five-star
reads?

I have my own
five-star paradise,
and my recent residents
are…


All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3) by Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym), J.K. Rowling

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3)

Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav

Love & Misadventure

Lullabies by Lang Leav

Lullabies

Macarthur by Bob Ong

Macarthur

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

Love Anthony

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train

Photo credit: Goodreads


In response to The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday today:

March 29: 10 Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads (Or Ten Of The Best Books I’ve Read Recently

P.S. What are your recent best reads?

Share it to me! 😀

~