Beanie level: Rooftop room dweller

I guess I did ask for this cameo. Still hurts though. 😭😭

#ForestOfSecrets2
#YoonGwajang

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 29: A book everyone hated but you liked

Hands down, it’s Stephenie Meyer’s The Host. Actually I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this one, given that I still lamented the day I finished her Twilight saga. I started it purely out of curiosity to see how much of a mess Meyer would make out of her latest novel. Of course, the dramatic love triangle was there, the sappy inter species love story was also there. But the reluctant-alliance-turned-genuine-friendship between the 2 female leads was also very much there, and it’s enough to compensate for everything else. That, and the delightful found family that is the core of the story.

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    Hey! 🖐 I like this one too.
    I guess it had second-hand hate from Twilight.

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    I remember really liking this one too! Kind of bummed we never got a sequel.

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      I’m torn about the sequel. On one hand, I don’t mind reading more adventures from these characters that I came to love. On the other hand, I’m afraid the sequel would ruin this story instead. Though that unexpected meeting with other refugees was as good place as any to end this tale.

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        I think at this point, it’s just been too long since the initial book came out, too. Not many people would probably be interested now. I know I would have to reread the first one to remember what all happened.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 28: Favorite title of a Book

Luck in the Shadows (A shameless attempt at promoting Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner Series. Hehe)

Made to be Broken (Another shameless attempt at promoting Kelley Armstrong’s less popular series: Nadia Stafford. I know not that many people wanted to read a story about hitman-or hitwoman, but this one is unbelievably good.)

Handle with Care (Not my most favorite of Jodi Picoult’s novel, but the title always reminded me of beautiful, fragile thing, which is an apt description of the little girl that everybody’s lives revolved around in this tale.)



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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 27: The most surprising plot twist or ending

Given that some of my favorite genre were adventure, mystery, and thriller, the number of books I could mention to answer this challenge is immense. Which is why, I’d pick a book that shouldn’t be able to surprise me much, yet it did so anyway with such ease and originality. Lost You Forever by Tong Hua was one of my favorite character driven high fantasy. (She is the writer of the famous original novel Scarlet Heart, by the way.) At a glance, it seemed like the usual dramatic reverse harem romance. But the deep insight gleaned from each lead’s life elevated this into something much greater. And I’m yet to find a bigger-than-life character as compelling and well written as the nine-headed demon Xiang Liu.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 26: A book that changed your opinion about something

My Mister Ostrich by Han Yan was the first novel I’ve read about people with disability. I wasn’t familiar with Chinese novel yet, and I didn’t know much about that topic either at the time. Normally, a fiction that was written in biography style didn’t entice me much, but the strong slice-of-life tone of this story hooked me from the beginning. I don’t know how close the description of the male lead’s condition and struggle are to those in real life, but the book clearly has interesting things to say about living with disability.

One thing that left a lasting impression for me was the female lead’s utter inability to understand why other people felt the need to qualify their compliments towards the male lead with a mention of his missing hands. Her innocent question “What does it have to do with anything?” stunned me and frankly, it raised some excellent points to think about.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 24: A book you wish more people would’ve read

One of the reason I love fantasy genre is because I found it an exciting and harmless way to deal with many difficult and sensitive topics. But even then, it’s still hard to find a decent story that tackled the theme of religion or organized belief. Which is why Age of the Five trilogy by Trudi Canavan is still one of the best fantasy tale I’ve read. It spoke fluently of blind faith, of absolute power and its absolute corruption, of discrimination against “lesser race”, about the power of (mis)information. It featured one of the worst and most painful betrayal story I’ve encountered. But it also soothed us with deep relationships that transcended any barrier.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 23: A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

I’ve been trying to finish the classic series Buru Quartet from Pramoedya Ananta Toer for some years, but found myself stalling to start the last book House of Glass. The sudden change of narrative point-of-view, and the sense of impending doom and loss made me hesitant to go through it. The series covered the rise of Indonesian independence movement in early 1900. And frankly, the exile of the hero, a pioneering journalist who launched the first Indonesian newspaper, that started the finale book daunted me. The series is already hard to read as it is, and knowing that it wouldn’t end well for him is something I have to brace myself for sometime soon.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 22: A book that makes you cry

A lot of Jodi Picoult’s books could fit this challenge well. But I’ll choose her first book I stumbled upon, the classic My Sister’s Keeper. I still re-read that from time to time and somehow it managed to offer me a new nugget of understanding every single time. Anna is a small force of nature that often left me choked with my own feelings, and I don’t think I’ve met another supposedly bad boy character as complex and puzzling as Jesse.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 21: The first novel you remember reading

My memory is spotty (it’s almost 20 years ago, how time flies!), but it’s either an adventure series Double Ef Team by Nurul F. Huda or a touching family story from Pipiet Senja. Both were my favorite children’s story writers before I finally ventured to the fantasy genre later (ahem, Harry Potter).


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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 20: Favorite romance book

7 Unfortunate Lifetimes by Jiu Lu Fei Xiang (the English translation is available on novelupdates, by the way). But really, anything from this author is a guaranteed lovely read: fast-paced, humorous, and full of fluttery sweetness. So far, she is the only Chinese novel author that managed to convince me to read a lighter fare from period fantasy genre. And nothing could compare to the fine weave of tragic death underscored by sharp humor and amusing banter.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 19: Favorite book turned into a movie

If drama counted, then it hands down The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation a.k.a The Untamed. I don’t think I need to elaborate it further given my endless post on fan wall about the brilliance of this adaptation only several months ago.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 18: A book that disappointed you

Rick Riordan’s The Burning Maze for the crime of ignoring the genre he set the story in that resulted in that completely unnecessary and purposeless death. I’m not even that invested in his latest series (i.e. The Trials of Apollo) since he seemed to over rely on the formula that brought him the success of Percy Jackson. But that death is such an ugly contrast with the jaunty happy tone of his books that I almost exploded from sheer frustration. I guess I should congratulate him for turning an easy, fun read into something rant-inducing.

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    I haven’t read The Burning Maze yet, but I do agree with you that Rick Riordan seems to go back to his trusty formula. I got the feeling that he tried something a bit different with Kane Chronicles and Magnus Chase. But personally I think the stories are not on par with Percy Jackson and the Olympians or the Heroes of Olympus. Maybe that’s why The Trials of Apollo felt so familiar, but not original anymore. And his best hero is still the somewhat clueless and occasional heroic Percy.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 16: Favorite female character

I tried not to answer this challenge by mentioning similar titles or authors for several questions in a row, but Robin Hobb is just too good at creating engaging characters. I think it was a testament of her skill that she could turn readers from hating someone like Malta Vestrit from Liveship Traders series to fiercely loving and rooting for her by the time the tale ended.

The first time she was being introduced to us, I didn’t think I’ve met a more hateful young female character. She was spoiled, vain, self-centered, cunning, manipulative, with a dangerous streak of jealousy and vindictiveness to boot. But even that early in her story, I couldn’t help finding her fascinating, especially the sense of naked ugliness in the way she voiced her thoughts. She was perpetually thirsty for acknowledgment, brimming with unfulfilled potential, and forever dreaming for a grand adventure.

Trust Hobb to write a plausible and relatable incident that triggered the avalanche of changes for Malta. It was completely believable for her to then grow up overnight, maturing faster than she should be under the strain of severe and sudden family crisis. It was a feat to witness her gaining independence, helping herself out from difficult situation, seizing control under onslaught of panic instead of waiting around for her “knight in shining armor” like her young infatuated self. Who knows that she would end up being my most favorite female character in a series chock-full of amazing women?

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 15: Favorite male character

I always have a huge soft spot for cut-out-from-the-world characters. The one who stood in the center of every important action, but oddly untouched by it. The one who was always surrounded by people, but lived with deeply ingrained loneliness. The one with burning desire to forge an important connection, but never knew the right word or action to actually achieve it.

So, it comes as no surprise that FitzChivalry Farseer from Robin Hobb’s fictional world The Realm of the Elderling was the one that occupied the number 1 spot for my fave male character. The fact that his story spanned the length of several decades, starting from his turbulent childhood, to his secretive years as an emotionally stunted adult, and through his bittersweet late years only cemented my love for him. He felt inexplicably like home, familiar as someone you grew up together with. A character that stayed too close to heart, at times both painful and beloved.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 14: Book turned into a movie and completely desecrated

Uumm… Harry Potter and Half-blood Prince? Okay, to be fair, I generally refused to watch any adaptation for the books that I loved because they usually completely mangled it beyond any recognition. But I couldn’t avoid watching Harry Potter. And while I think the last 4 movies are a disappoinment anyway, this one took the cake by missing all (and I do mean all) the important emotional point of the story.

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    I feel the same way about the adaptation of the third and fourth books.

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    The worst was the complete assassination of Ginny’s awesome awesome personality.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 13: Your favorite writer

This is a tough question. But If I have to choose one, it would be Kelley Armstrong. I rarely trusted a writer this much by reading all of her works without any regard of the genre, the concept she wanted to explore, or the popularity of her novels. But for her, I simply lap it all up, sure that she would end up leave me satisfied. It sure helped, though, that she generally produced fast-paced stories with strong and interesting characters that blended mystery, action, and romance quite seamlessly.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 12: A book you love but hate at the same time

Errmm… So there\’s this book that I read for purely guilty pleasure reason. And yeah, I didn\’t expect much, but turned out, it has a very intriguing concept that I think should be explored much much deeper and merited something so much better that this story.

It all began with a what-if question about someone who sleepwalked and did his deepest desire without being conscious about it. At first it only resulted in harmless actions like going to places he didn\’t normally go to while awake, flirting with people he usually didn\’t dare acknowledge as attractive, drawing beautiful yet disturbing pictures when normally he couldn\’t do it awake, stuff like that. But then one day, he burned the home of a man who made his life absolutely miserable just because of who he is. And so the small town is in uproar because the medical examiner declared his sleepwalking as an impairing medical condition that made him a non-responsible party for that incident, while everyone was ready to condemn him as a heartless murderer. It\’s dark, unnerving, but somehow a little bit beautiful in the isolation that the main lead lived in.

Sadly, the build-up of that concept is completely ruined when the writer focused too much on the sex scenes and the other unnecessary stuff. And yeah, I\’m too embarrassed to spill the title to you all. *hides*

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    But my dear @gadis, isn’t that the whole point? For you to NOT be embarrassed by your pick of reading material? Just because you read something that’s not considered “literature” doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy thoughtful/ educational/ intellectual/ *put whatever description you want here* reads or that you are less of a reader, and just because you enjoy the classics or “appropriate” books doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the more “easy” reads or that you’re a snob! A reader is a reader as long as they read. Choice of their reading material is up to them.

    I like to read:
    Romance novels
    Cozy mysteries
    Youth Sleuth stories (ala Nancy Drew, to this day)
    Fantasy novels
    Some of the classics
    Murder mysteries
    (lots more on the list that I can’t think of, off the top of my head)

    Tried but can never finish

    Anna Karenina
    anything by Charles Dickens (Go ahead, judge me)
    again, lots more on the list that i can’t think of, off the top of my head

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      The thing is, this one is erotica. And the exploration about that is problematic at best. Ugh, I don’t now what makes me read this book in the first place.
      .
      .
      .
      So, if you really must know, it’s… *whisper* When All the World Sleeps by Lisa Henry.

      Now I really need to hide. *blush*

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 11: A book you hated

Have any of you read Megan Lindholm’s Cloven Hooves? To be honest, I had high expectation since it came from one of my favorite author (well, technically she used a different pen name, but still), but it only managed to anger me to no end. I’m not sure if this was a woman empowerment piece gone horribly, terribly wrong, or I simply didn’t have the knowledge to understand the real message this tale tried to convey. Someone, help, please??

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    I haven’t read this but I tend not to like the stuff written as Megan Lindholm as much as the stuff written as Robin Hobb. I don’t know why.

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      I’ve read Megan Lindholm’s collection of short stories before this, and found it interesting enough. Sure, her stories tend to be more surreal and a little bit unnerving than her works as Robin Hobb, but I thought it was okay. But apparently my first try at her novel turned into a nightmarish experience. I’m sure I wrote a super long rant for this particular book the moment I finished it.

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    I haven’t read this but at first glance I thought the title says β€œColleen Hoover” which is another author’s name, and so ended up thinking that this cover just has 3 names instead. Lolols I haven’t finished my coffee yet…

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 10: A book that reminds you of home

Logically, it should be a book about something very close to my real life. But somehow, the only title I could think of is a classic Indonesian novel Para Priyayi by Umar Kayam (translated into english as Javanese Gentry). It was a historical piece quite far removed from my own life, but it was also the only book that reminded me strongly of all the tales my parents used to regale me about their childhood. It was a story about middle-class family from East Java and their evolving dynamic as time changes, and it’s a sharp resemblance to the differing eras between me and my parents.

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30 Days Book Challenge
Day 9: A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

Harry Potter was my very first foray to magical world stories, and to my very young self, it’s unfathomable to imagine a magical world being described in any different way. That’s the very reason I avoided magic-related stories like plague until I was much older. It was with trepidation that I tried reading Jonathan Stroud’s Amulet of Samarkand (which is the first book of his Bartimaeus Trilogy). Who knew that I would fall head over heel by the end of the book?

Until this day, I still dubbed this trilogy as a more somber, less black-and-white version of Harry Potter in my mind. Both Harry and Nathaniel have a crappy childhood, but while Harry found best friends and loving mentors during school, Nathaniel found every possible reason to stop being the sweet child that he was because of the cruel “school system” in that world. Both were forced to be heroes in their respective world, but while Harry was instantly likeable and always backed his resolve with positivity, Nathaniel was a fascinating and sometimes downright hateful antihero who has to fight for his own place. While the wizards from Harry Potter world used a non troublesome wand as their tool, the ones from Bartimaeus world enslaved demons to do their bidding, presenting us with a complex moral conundrum as the story went on.

Whenever I need a little bit of reminder that difficult questions on gray areas actually existed in children fantasy book, I always turned to this trilogy without fail. And I think as I get older, I appreciated the idea of a “hero” like Nathaniel so much more.

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    Thank you for this entry! I finally got around to reading my Belgariad books during the quarantine, and they keep promoting this trilogy in the end notes. I was hesitating because while I love fantasy stories, the Belgariad is at times heavier to stomach than my usual light fiction (like Harry Potter), and this trilogy seems to belong in that same category.

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    I remember you recommended me that trilogy, that description of the hero is quite interesting , will let you know when I’ll reach it on my to-read list ^^

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    I keep wondering whether there’s going to be a sequel…

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    Going on my To read list

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