Nicole Reads

Nicole Reads

Consumed with wanderlust. Dreams of writing her own novel. Devours books. Fluent in Spanglish. Intersectional feminist.

Review
4 Stars
[REVIEW] The Summer Palace by C.S. Pacat
The Summer Palace: A Captive Prince Short Story (Captive Prince Short Stories Book 2) - C.S. Pacat

What a lovely way to be entertained on a flight, oooh-ing and aah-ing and having a serious case of heart eyes all the while. This is the epilogue I wanted and needed after finishing the series. It can get a little bit TOO cheesy for my taste but it was just so nice to see my bbs so happy after everything that happened.

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] Too Late for the Festival: An American Salary Woman in Japan by Rhiannon Paine
Too Late for the Festival: An American Salary Woman in Japan - Rhiannon Paine

First book of the year! WHOOT! 

I appreciate the candor in which Ms. Paine writes. I also appreciate her honesty when it came to how difficult it was for her to adjust to life in Japan. There are just so many things to have in mind as a foreigner, so many different ways to offend or make someone uncomfortable, that unless you studied it or read about it, you wouldn't have the faintest idea of what you did wrong. I also liked that she didn't paint a rosy colored picture of her life abroad. She put her whole experience on paper. Warts and all.

That said, the book is not terribly entertaining. I found myself dropping it in favor of other things like coloring or watching something on Netflix.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a real taste of the office culture and life of a bookworm-ish foreigner in Japan. Other than that, it's highly melancholic, sad and not what I would call a fun read so you've been warned.

Review
4 Stars
[REVIEW] What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga
What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 1[WHAT DID YOU EAT YESTERDAY V01][Paperback] - FumiYoshinaga

Aw! A good, slice-of-life manga. It's like coming home to your favorite sweater.

 

The art is so light and delicate. I've read (I think) most of Ms. Yoshinaga's work and it never disappoints. I love that there are recipes and that the characters are so relatable. Will definitely continue to slowly consume this series.

 

 

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux
Simple Passion - Annie Ernaux, Tanya Leslie
"From September last year, I did nothing else but wait for a man: for him to call me and come round to my place."
(1%)



This book surprised me. It wasn't what I expected and to be exposed to the raw emotion and sincerity of the narrator touched me deeply. The opening of the novel gripped me and never let go until I finished it in one sitting.

I appreciated the singular focus of it: the woman and her affair with the madness of love itself. It is a bare, tender and crude retelling of her torrid love affair with the married man, A. The way she described him made you fall for him too. Her words are filled with emotion, urgency, and a certain distance as if she isn't completely sure she didn't conjure A to respond to a longing that plagued her. She wrote it all down as a way to preserve her memories as best as she could.

"The partly erased frescoes in Santa Croce moved me because of my story, which would come to resemble them one day--fading fragments in his memory and in mine."
(52%)


Contrary to the heroines of the early French literature who fought fiercely against the whims of their passions, this unnamed narrator surrendered to the infatuation that shaped her reality and her emotional state without reserve. She lives in perpetual pause waiting for her lover. She loves in secret but even so, her writing and her love are both savage, compelling and absorbing. Truly, this book blurs the line between romantic and depressing but even so, I can't stop myself from loving it.

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] The Lover by Marguerite Duras
The Lover - Marguerite Duras, Barbara Bray
“People ought to be told of such things. Ought to be taught that immortality is mortal, that it can die, it’s happened before and it happens still.” (90%)



The prose is so beautiful, so evocative, that I am immediately transported into the world of “The Lover”. I am glad I read the introduction, confusing as it was because it let me know two important things: 1. this novel is 'somewhat' autobiographical of the author and 2. the characters are mostly nameless.

Because it is written in the first person, you are immediately gripped by the narrator’s voice. The rawness of her emotion is palpable. The timeline isn’t clearly established, we keep jumping back and forth between different ages/memories of the narrator which can be jarring at times.

While reading about a 15-year-old engaging in a sexual relationship with a 27-year-old is deeply unsettling, because of the way the narrator tells the story, you can become confused and think of her as older than 15. I wonder if she engaged in sex as a way to combat the sadness she says she has always felt within her, a sadness that ages her young face and that is mirrored in the deep melancholy of her mother. It's truly heartbreaking.

As it is, the whole novel is accompanied by a sad, melancholic tone and it doesn't let up until you've finished the book.

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] The Letters of a Portuguese Nun by Mariana Alcoforado
The Portuguese Letters: Love Letters of a Nun to a French Officer - Gabriel Joseph De Lavergne Guilleragues, Mariana Alcoforado
“[…] you gave me evidence of a great passion for me. I was overjoyed at it, and I gave myself up to love you to distraction. You were not blinded as I was. Why then did you let me fall into the state in which I now am?”



The text was very hard to read at the beginning. The "f"s that were really "s"s confused me 98% of the time.

However, I immediately felt for Marianna and her plight. I was not annoyed or exasperated by her mad attachment to her unworthy lover. I believe she was a victim of love and considering that she had been living in a convent at a young age, it is sadly unsurprisingly she was taken advantage of.

She was not properly prepared by anyone on what to do when it came to falling in love and the artifices of men. Her love is genuine, honest and even manipulative once her lover disappeared from Portugal. I was moved by her lament and the sincerity of her words. To throw your life away for someone who is unworthy of you is terrible and to see Marianna come to terms with that in her own letters was heartbreaking.

Review
4 Stars
[REVIEW] The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette
The Princess of Cleves - Madame de La Fayette

God, what a heartbreaking novel. Even while I suspected where it would go, I held on to the hope that maybe it wouldn't go there. Ultimately it did and my poor heart could not take it. Move over Romeo and Juliet, the Duke of Nemours and the Princess of Clèves are the patron saints of star-crossed lovers.

 

The beginning is a chore to get through. The name dropping of the everyone in the French Court is supposed to give you a sense of place along with a cast of characters but it just ended up confusing me even more. Nonetheless, I kept reading.

 

The Princess of Clèves and the Duke of Nemours are a delight to read about it, mostly because we get to see their character evolution. Their story is nothing short of gut-wrenching; their love so true and genuine. But, by all means, this novel isn't perfect. It suffers a lot from frequent visits of the Goddess of Exposition™ which I believe take away from the main story. Sure I want some backstory on the situation but not pages upon pages upon pages of it.

Review
2 Stars
[REVIEW] Phaedra by Jean Racine
Phaedra - Jean Racine, Richard Wilbur, Igor Tulipanov

I am surprised at how easy this was to read. After reading little bits on my commute, I sat down and finished it in a day.

Shame colors Phaedra’s life and blinds her completely to any solution other than death. She is not a reasonable person at any point until the very end when she has seen the consequence of her passion. She had hoped in vain that Hippolyte would return her feelings and save her from the shroud of guilt that covered her. Ultimately, he became so disgusted by her sentiments that it made her shame grow into a monster she couldn’t control and that would be the cause for Hippolyte’s unjust demise.

I was not a fan of the false rape accusation at all. It perpetuates this bullshit that women falsely accuse men of rape out of spite. Not here for this.

Review
5 Stars
[REVIEW] Sappho by Sappho
Sappho: A New Translation - Sappho, Mary Barnard, Dudley Fitts
You may forget but

Let me tell you
this: someone in
some future time
will think of us



Beautiful, painful, evocative, sensual and lush are a few ways to describe Sappho's poetry. Even if we only have incomplete and broken fragments of her poetry, there is no absence of emotion.

Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf

My first Virginia Woolf. It was very interesting. That first half though? Good grief. It was a rambling, meandering mess. I fell asleep three times trying to get through it.

The middle portion of the book is excellent. Some of her views sadly still apply today. How women are considered inferior, how they must be a mirror that reflects men's greatness back at them and if they don't fulfill this role, they are mercilessly attacked. It's all very true in this day and age.

She spoke from her perspective but as I read, I couldn't help but wonder about the women of color back then had the shit end of the stick.

Review
3.5 Stars
[REVIEW] The Cid by Pierre Corneille
The Cid - Pierre Corneille, John R. Pierce, John R. Pierce, Joseph Rutter
Our most fortunate successes are mingled with sadness; always some cares, [even] in the [successful] events, mar the serenity of our satisfaction. In the midst of happiness my soul feels their pang: I float in joy, and I tremble with fear.
[Don Diego, Act III, Scene V]



It was really striking to read this play. First, I was expecting to be bored (I don't have the best track record with classics). Second, I was expecting a really difficult read. I'm happy to report that it is neither. I like that Corneille presented real and flawed characters, all of them having to deal with the act of sacrificing something dear to them because it was the right thing to do. I found myself wondering several times how on earth could the central problem be solved. In a way it was but it wasn't? Because it ended so abruptly, one can only hope that Chimène was able to forgive Rodrigo though I have no idea how she ever could forgive him. Same way I have no idea how she could stop herself from loving him.

Review
4 Stars
[REVIEW] Undecided by Julianna Keyes
Undecided - Julianna Keyes

Ugh, this book is so the perfect combination of sweet, fluffy, steamy, and just the right amount of angst. I couldn't ask for more.

I had found this book after I trolled various 'friends-to-lovers' list and while I really don't think that this book falls into that category, I am glad I read it.

Nora is a flawed but mature heroine and I was never bored while I read her story. Crosbie seemed off-putting to me initially because I thought he was just too muscular but his personality won me over. He's sweet, he's funny, he's a loyal friend, he knows when to apologize, he is studious and doesn't take things for granted. He's a truly great hero and his friendship with Kellan is the epitome of a bromance. I also hope Kellan gets his own book because he deserves his HEA. 

AND I NEED MARCELA AND NATE TO HOOK UP FOR REAL.

(show spoiler)


It was also so refreshing to read a New Adult book that had no slut shaming or raging assholes disguised as heroes.

I also enjoyed the refreshingly real situation Kellan got himself into aka he got an STD.

(show spoiler)

 
My only real gripe was that the writing seemed repetitive at times and I detected a small inconsistency between the number of months Nora had been celibate. In certain parts, it said four months and in another, it said three. It's a minor thing but it bugs me because that's just me.

Otherwise, I truly recommend this book if you want to read something fun and are looking for a new book boyfriend.

 

Review
4 Stars
[REVIEW] Marrying Winterbourne by Lisa Kleypas
Marrying Winterborne - Lisa Kleypas

A much better book than the first, Winterborne and Helen are a delightful pair. I think Helen is one of my favorite heroines. She is kind, intelligent, sensitive and a delightful sweetheart. She's decisively not annoying which is a big yay for me. Rhys Winterborne got on my nerves on the first book by the end but he's truly a charming man. His chemistry with Helen is off the charts and it is clear to us from the very beginning, a vast improvement from the previous book.

Why not a full five stars? Some sex scenes, in my opinion, could not be enjoyed because I was just too upset about the secret Helen was keeping from Winterborne. I understand her reasoning for not saying anything but damn, I needed her to speak up. The end got solved real quickly but at that point, I just wanted them together for good.

Review
2 Stars
[REVIEW] Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas
Cold-Hearted Rake - Lisa Kleypas

My review got chewed up by GoodReads. The pain is real.

The short version: if you can get past the first 100 lackluster pages and lower your expectations, the book isn't too terrible. I hated the hero and the heroine for a good measure of the book. They didn't have an ounce of chemistry for those first 100 pages. Hell, the heroine had more chemistry with her horse than with the hero. They fall in love completely out of nowhere. While the sexual chemistry appears late in the game, it is there and it is pretty steamy.

The secondary characters (West is the best, Helen is a sweetheart and Hamlet is so cute) save the book from being a total disaster.

The book felt like a giant prequel for the second book, with the main couple at times taking a backseat to Helen and Winterborne. After what Winterborne did near the end, I have my reservations about him, but because I am trash, I'm reading the second book.

Review
2 Stars
[REVIEW] Letters to Juliet by Lise Friedman & Ceil Friedman
Letters to Juliet - Lise Friedman,  Ceil Friedman

First of all, this book is nothing like the movie.

I knew that going in but maybe a lot of people won't so I am trying to save many a soul from the disappointing experience I went through when I read Under the Tuscan Sun.

This book started out very promising. I was quickly enveloped in the brief explanation of how the Romeo & Juliet myth came to life. It was directly related to a class I was taking at the moment in Verona so I was doubly interested. However, from the middle to the end, it became boring. Like another reviewer said, it read more like a textbook. It also bugged me that none of the secretaries (all women) were named in the book.

Overall, a great read for those who are big fans of the play and want to know more about the city of Verona through the eyes of the Romeo & Juliet myth.

Review
4 Stars
[REVIEW] Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
Brokeback Mountain - Annie Proulx

A sad, heartbreaking story with vivid imagery. My poor little heart.

 

The narrator was fantastic and his different tones of voice for Ennis and Jack made me fall for the characters even more. Now I just need to nurse my sadness.

currently reading

Progress: 20/234pages