Word Revel

Book blogger, recent Sociology grad in her twenties. Stares at labels when no books are in sight. Disproportionately reads YA. This is a companion blog to http://wordrevel.com.

The Falconer

The Falconer - Elizabeth May, Susan Duerden Initial thoughts: This book wasn't on my TBR pile because it specifically interested me. No. I picked it up because it's in Crini's dreadful series jail and Sana and I bet Crini we would break her resolution not to read those books until their series are complete. So, it is under those circumstances that I came to read The Falconer with no expectations at all.

I ended up listening to The Falconer because I had no other unheard audiobooks left on my phone while travelling this month. I must say, it turned out glorious. It took me a while to get used to listening to the Scottish accent without losing concentration. I'm so used to American audiobooks, which are so effortless to listen to in comparison, the maximum speed I could set The Falconer to was 1.25x. In any case, the narration lent it more authenticity and taught me how all these words, cù sìth, seilgflùr, sìthichean and so are supposed to be pronounced. That was a huge plus to me. Had I read these words myself, I wouldn't have remembered the distinctions between all these creatures.

Aileana's journey was a whirlwind adventure set in historical Scotland where a woman's sole duty was to be married. Yet marriage was the last thing Aileana wanted. Instead, she was much more consumed with revenge. This struggle that she faced between who she wanted to be and the who she had a duty to be propelled a huge part of the plot. And while there was romance in The Falconer, it boiled under the surface and spiralled Aileana into confusion, regardless of who was involved. I liked the friendship between Aileana and Catherine, as well as Catherine's brother, Gavin.

Equatorial Sunshine

Equatorial Sunshine - Wong Su Ann Initial thoughts: This book offers more than collection of poems — it also contains snippets of musings. These musings are laid out in prose but in a lyrical manner befitting a collection of poems. Heartfelt from the first to last word, Equatorial Sunshine was a joy to read, even when I recognised sadness that I've come to know all too well.

I think this is a gem of a book that has been added to Singapore literature. As much as the emotions expressed are universal, there are parts that are particular familiar to those who have grown up or lived in Singapore. This is such a delightful debut, I hope Su Ann will come to publish more in future with an even greater depth to her poetry.

This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life - Leila Sales Initial thoughts: Oh how I loved this book! It's when a book speaks to you on so many levels that you remember why you care so much about fictional people living in fictional worlds. Because fiction is rooted in reality and shows us just how much we crave to be accepted, to be someone, to be seen, to be all that we are meant to be. Fiction reminds us that we are not alone; there are others who go through similar experiences — others understand. Most of the time I read to escape but sometimes I find mirrors that show me a glimpse of myself that I didn't see before.

Beyond that, This Song Will Save Your Live was well-written, well-narrated, well thought-out. The narrator is a wry realist who said things as she saw them. No sugar-coating involved. She also embodies a level of madness that I think most of us possess, even if it never is enough to be diagnosed as a mental disorder. Also, music pulses through the book. Books revolving around aesthetics have a special place in my heart. This Song Will Save Your Live is no exception.

End of Days

End of Days - Susan Ee, Caitlin Davies Audiobook rating: 2 stars
Book rating: 1.5 stars

Initial thoughts: End of Days makes me wish Angelfall was a standalone book. That was so much wasted anticipation for a book that I didn't particularly care for once I was done reading. Angelfall was so different and surprising, it enthralled me. World After kept me hooked, even if it served more as a bridge. Sadly, I think the bridge was a better destination than End of Days was.

It's a good thing that I like the narrator, Caitlin Davies. It's through her voice that I experienced the entire trilogy, so even though I think Penryn was a much weaker character in End of Days than in Angelfall, listening to Davies maintained the familiarity for me.

What I did enjoy was the exploration of Beliel as a character. He was the only one who really had any substance and depth. Raffe was very inconsequential in comparison. Just as well. For all the people who ship Penryn and Raffe, I hardly cared about the outcome of their romance even from the start.

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury May 27, 2015

Book review is up on Word Revel.


May 26, 2015

Initial thoughts: Given that Fahrenheit 451 is a modern classic, I've inevitably heard a lot of things about the book. And it's these things that weighed on my mind as I read. Censorship and book burning — these two things were what I came to expect. Yet as much as books were burnt for censorship, I didn't see this as the pivotal theme. After all, most people had already stopped reading before books were burnt.

To me, the effect of technology and mass media on people was a more pertinent theme. Alienation, loneliness, disconnection, etc arose from the acceptance of mass media as reality and even "family". People dumbed down and no longer valued intellect. The "how" was prized over the "why". People became detached, didn't want children and loathed them when they did have them anyway.

Regardless of what the dominant theme of Fahrenheit 451 is, I can see how progressive it must have been when it was first published. The technological advancement portrayed wasn't all too complex but what struck me was how the lifestyles were shaped in light of mass media. I just wish more depth had been conveyed through Guy Montag and that the plot had been bolstered more. The themes interested me more than the actual story, which hardly is why I read fiction.

Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted - Susanna Kaysen Actual rating: 2.5 stars

Initial thougths: Given that the author was committed to a psychiatric hospital and Girl, Interrupted is a memoir chronicling that time, I didn't think the book did it all that much justice. Little was actually shared through the book that an observer couldn't have written. The advantage of the first-person perspective of someone who actually experienced two years at McLean Hospital didn't translate.

However, there were explorations on what it means to be mentally ill versus healthy, which against the backdrop of the 1960s did seem pertinent — such as homosexuality no longer being diagnosed as an illness. These sections somewhat made up for the lack of depth conveyed with regards to the actual experiences.

Perhaps the fact that I watched the movie adaptation for a sociology course on medicine and health a couple of year ago affected my expectations a fair bit. After dissecting and analysing the movie, I thought there'd be so much more meat to the primary text. Sadly, that wasn't the case. I didn't walk away from the book with the impression that I gained all that much beyond a collection of thoughts on whether diagnoses of the patients were justified in the first place.


Confess - Colleen Hoover, Sebastian York, Elizabeth Louise Initial thoughts: Representations of truth through art were very well explored in Confess. That is one thing that impressed me a lot about this book. Some truths embedded in anonymous confessions were surprisingly very deep. On the whole this book surprised me as it made me shed a few tears. I can't remember which book last made me cry but Confess touched me because it was so unassuming yet heart-breaking. The narrators accentuated the moods of the two characters, Aubrey and Owen, allowing me to fully immerse myself in the audiobook. However, the prose and selection of words sometimes made me cringe, so I didn't end up loving the book as much as I could have.

Night Owls

Night Owls - Jenn Bennett Finally another book featuring graffiti! Can't wait to read this.


Divergent - Veronica Roth Ratings:
August 3, 2013 — 5 stars
April 30, 2015 — 4 stars

Thoughts upon rereading: The first time round I read Divergent in 2013, I devoured it. I loved it to bits. For most of my teen years I read contemporary fiction and to finally delve more into science fiction, specifically dystopian fiction, was exhilarating. Since then I've read more dystopian books, some of which impressed me more and some less. Also, this time round I tabbed the pages with post-it notes, annotated and cross-referenced. This close reading forced me to be more critical (in the analytical sense) as I read.

I was amazed how some moments in the beginning chapters were shadows of what was to come. I saw this as a strength of the overarching narrative. I found two inconsistencies but compared to the many subtle moments that were linked, I figured they didn't matter that much. The characters were well-developed and distinctive, even though each faction's members were supposed to be more similar than different.

What made me a little sad was that I felt much more disconnected from Tris as the first-person narrator as opposed to when I read Divergent the very first time and absolutely adored Tris. Either way, she's a great protagonist who shows strength, weakness, dominance, submission, and basically the complexity you'd expect from someone whose story you're reading.

Ignite Me

Ignite Me - Tahereh Mafi Actual rating: 2.5 stars

Initial thoughts: I went into Ignite Me rather apprehensive right from the start, so I can't say I set myself up for disappointment. Yet I am a little disappointed. The first book held so much promise, while the second book gave so much potential to this conclusion of the trilogy. Ignite Me didn't live up to that for me. I felt like I had to force myself to finish reading as I dreaded picking up the book again on more than one occasion. The constant whining and pining grated on me.

At least there were a few chapters that rekindled my interest in finishing the book. There were some little twists that added layers to the otherwise predictable plot. In the end what saved the book for me were Kenji and James. Without these two characters, I might've flung the book out of the window. Good thing I wasn't compelled to defenestrate the book because I alternated between reading on my Kindle and my phone.


I've been completely absorbed in the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi, even devouring the two novellas. I'm in the midst of Ignite Me right now though sadly, can't wait for it to end.


Somehow I expected a lot more action and explorations of the world than the trilogy offers. It has a very interesting premise as the book trailer conveys but so far I feel that the romance overshadows everything else a bit to much.


On the other hand, some of the readers who recommended the series to me absolutely adored the books precisely because of the romance. I think it really comes down to personal preference. I for one am particularly enamoured by the writing style.

Fracture Me

Fracture Me - Tahereh Mafi Initial thoughts: Underwhelmed pretty much sums up my thoughts. Fracture Me comes off as a novella that was written merely for the sake of it. It has little rhyme or reason to exist. In the same vein as Destroy Me (#1.5), Fracture Me was written from an alternative perspective to Juliette. This time round it wasn't Warner's though; it was Adam's.

The thing is, Fracture Me hardly brought anything new to the table. Readers already know what happened in Unravel Me (#2). Yet Fracture Me was bent on providing a recap, albeit from the perspective of Adam. Since I hardly gained any new insight into the character of Adam, I felt it was all very superfluous.

The only reason this novella earned 2 stars instead of 1 or even 0 is Mafi's consistency. Her writing style remained solid and I did believe that the story was told from the perspective of Adam. Sadly, I ended up liking him much less than I did in the previous books.

Unravel Me

Unravel Me  - Tahereh Mafi Initial thoughts: This series just keeps getting better with each book! The building complexity of the characters is a huge plus. Coupled with the prose, Unravel Me is a wonderful book. Though again, as with Shatter Me, the romance put a slight damper on my enjoyment. It helped that this time round I was expecting it, so I could appreciate the confusion that it evoked in everyone involved.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  - Jim  Dale, J.K. Rowling Initial thoughts: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets continues being as funny as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, though it is notch darker than the first book. Many moments were as memorable to me as ever: the Weasley's breaking Harry out of home, Malfoy's father practically buying Malfoy a spot on the Slytherin Quidditch team, Hermione transforming into a cat and Dobby gaining his freedom. I've also come to the conclusion that I greatly prefer Jim Dale's narration to Stephen Fry's.


Belzhar - Meg Wolitzer May 4, 2015

Book review is up on Word Revel.

April 10, 2015

Initial thoughts: I feel cheated. Belzhar was one of my highly anticipated 2014 books and now it has been reduced to this — a 2-star read. I hate it when books manipulate readers with plot twists that eventually fall flat. The magical aspect of its magical realism didn't enamour me either.

What Belzhar did have going for it at least was the no-nonsense style of writing. It was straight to the point. Still, this book ended up being slow reading because the plot was presented in a rather boring manner. It was a plain regurgitation of all the characters' stories that didn't allow me to experience anything as a reader.

I believe books should reach out to readers on both an emotional and an intellectual level. Belzhar was surprisingly devoid of emotion for a book that revolved around 5 teenagers who supposedly went through traumatic experiences.

Destroy Me

Destroy Me - Tahereh Mafi Initial thoughts: I was all set to skip Destroy Me since it's a novella and just continue with Unravel Me instead. But Chiara convinced me to read Destroy Me first and I'm glad I did. Any trace of doubt that I had about the series after reading Shatter Me dissolved upon reading Destroy Me. The portrayal of Warner added so much depth to this antagonist, there's bound to be a lot of conflict in the later books.

Looking at Juliette through Warner's eyes also added more layers to who Juliette is and why she acts and thinks the way she does. It also puts the idea of mental stability into question, seeing how difficult it can be to measure as an observer who doesn't know the full workings of a subject's mind.

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