Lost in the Words: Lost in the Beehive by Michele Young-Stone Book Review

From the author of Above Us Only Sky and The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, a touching new novel set in the 1960s about the power of friendship, love, and accepting your past in order to find a future.

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A young teenage girl, Gloria, begins this novel by being brought into a mental institution in the 60s that was designed specially for gay teenagers. She is our main character, a clever, loving, delicate and pleasant girl at the time, who happens to be a lesbian. From there she befriends a boy, Sheff, and their friendship evolved, taking a huge role in her life.

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Lost in the Beehive was nothing like what I expected it to be. Published by Simon Schuster, it was no wonder that the cover is so beautiful. Secondly, I love the story even from the beginning. Gloria is a wonderful character, and an amazing woman. I feel like I am very similar to her in a lot of ways – not in the fact that I am a lesbian, but in smaller things like how Gloria wants to make the people she loves happy, and as a result does not think more about her own happiness but what other people define a woman’s happiness is. Though her actions might not show those of a heroic protagonist in a fantasy story, Gloria is a more reserved, quiet, and human type of protagonist; nonetheless I think she is a wonderful main character.

Title: Lost in the Beehive
Author: Michele Young-Stone
Genres: Literary fiction, LGBT, historical fiction, magical realism
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Page number: 320 pgs
Expected publication: April 10th, 2018

Goodreads link. Book Depository link. Amazon link.

The themes discussed in the book are just admirably well written. The main character is a lesbian who when she was young was forced to think “just like everyone else”, to “be normal”, and there were times when Gloria thought that maybe she was the one who is abnormal, and that she should not be the way she is and conform to the norms her society has told her to.

However the topic of death was also handled beautifully in this book. Of course everyone deals with loss of a loved one differently, and in this novel, it was unique and well thought of. In the end my favourite subject that the author focused on, that I enjoyed the most in here was when Gloria was older, and she just tried her best to be happy with how normal people define it as. But in the end she needs to realise, and the readers alongside her, that happiness is different for everyone else, and you can never force yourself to be happy the way other people might think you’d be happy.

The main message I took from the book was that if ultimately in your heart you know that you will never be happy that way, you can never force yourself to be like everyone else. And it was a deeply moving message that I adored from Gloria’s story and captivated me so much that I was lost in the words of the book.

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The plot of this story was also something I highly enjoyed from this book. The writing’s pacing was never too slow or too fast. For me it’s a great combination of exciting, great character building, and wonderful description of atmosphere, setting, and situation. The characters all felt human and very well rounded, and no one seemed too evil or too perfect. The events that take place, though some slightly bizarre, was not too out of the box bizarre that might freak me out. It has just the right amount of action, conversation, slow and touching moments, and magical realism.

The bee element throughout the story was a wonderful addition that makes the book more special. I love how the story starts and ends with this small element that is tiny but makes a huge impact in the character’s life.

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Overall this book was profoundly touching, and the main character, though some people might not like her or might think she’s slightly bland and boring, for me was wonderful to read about. The relationships she made along her life were all interesting to read about, and in the end the story was beautifully written and evoked many emotions from me. It never failed to bore me, and I literally never want to put the book down.

With a captivating story, enchanting characters and unique themes that were discussed in the book, I couldn’t help but give it a full 5 stars. This book will be published in 10th of April of this year, and I highly recommend you to pick it up when it comes out if you think it’s of your interest.

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Huge thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an Advanced Reader’s Copy in exchange for an honest review.

Books2  Goodreads

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Books I Started the New Year with: January Reading Wrap Up

January was a slightly disappointing month when it comes to reading. Added to that, it’s disappointing how late I am posting this! I had high hopes, resolutions and plans for this month and the rest of the year, but most of them fell short. This was mainly caused by a new game I bought halfway through the month: Stardew Valley, which I am still obsessed about! My farm has taken over my free time, and for the past few weeks I’ve been preferring playing on my laptop instead of reading, which was a shame. However, I did read several books and here are my thoughts about them.

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Revival by Stephen King

Read my full review of this book on Goodreads.

20926342A lengthy novel about a man’s life from his childhood to his middle aged life, this is not just any thriller paperback you read on a weekend. Focusing on the main character’s relationship with his priest, his life and how it was shaped by different aspects, this book was thrilling, intriguing, and very well written.

King’s writing style is phenomenal and grips you throughout the entire 400-page saga, and it combines elements of religion, coming of age, family relationships, science, with a hint of surrealism. The main character was not personally relatable to me, but I really liked him and enjoyed reading about his journey of life, his romantic relationships, his love for his sister, his friendship, his career. Overall the book was unique from anything I’ve ever read, in a good way. It was exciting and always keeps me guessing.

4/5 stars

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Read my full review of this book and my thoughts on the audiobook on my other post.

27189285Aziz Ansari is most known for his acting in various TV shows, and his stand up comedies. His light, humorous personality and interest in romance, relationships, and online dating are once again shown through this nonfiction book. Here Aziz narrates with his characteristic voice his findings of modern romance: from how dating has changed over the years, to dating apps, sexting, finding your soulmate, to monogamy, and also comparing the dating cultures of other countries, this book is quite a thorough study on what it is like to be dating in the modern world.

With a great narration of the audiobook, and his concise way of stating facts and putting his point across, Aziz has definitely captivated my attention and though I wasn’t completely interested in the topic to begin with, I was never bored with what he was talking about in the book. It was fun to read, informative, and memorable. Overall a very enjoyable book.

4/5 stars

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng

Read my full review of this book on Goodreads.

36205618I didn’t have too high expectations coming into this book, and I didn’t know much about the fantasy world Jeannette Ng has built. What you need to understand about this novel is that it is definitely not for everyone. It is unique to the point of weird, slightly creepy and dark, very filled with theology and religion, has some controversial and maybe even disturbing themes.

However, the writing in this book was phenomenal, and the way the world was designed and built was so intricately done, so extraordinary and just a pleasure to read. With a wonderful main character and twists and turns throughout the book, it is a long read and sometimes quite slow, but it was a wonderful book to read for me.

4/5 stars

Some great books to begin the year with! All of them were four star reads, they were all very enjoyable in their own way. My favourite book of the month, if I had to choose, is probably Modern Romance. Meanwhile blogging-wise, I did excellent this January! I posted weekly about books and movies like I planned, I also visited a sweet little cat cafe which I wrote about. My plans for February: play less, read more! I’m sure after a while I’ll get tired of gaming and the hype will slowly wear down. It is a really fun game, though.

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Currently reading

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How was the start of your reading year? Let’s talk in the comments!

 

Recently Watched: December & January

December was the month of staying at home while rain patters through the windows, curling up under the blankets and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix, and trying to decide which Christmas movie to watch. January was the month of excitedly going to the city center to catch a movie, binge-watching Friends with my friends on the couch, and browsing through my hard disk to find a movie I want to watch at night. I watched __ movies in December and January. Here are the memorable movies I watched in the past couple of months.

Note: I’m ordering these in from my least favourite to my favourite 🙂

Three Christmas Movies: The Night Before, Four Christmases, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas

For random moments during December, I had the sudden urge to watch Christmas movies I have never watched before. Somehow I came up with these three movies: The Night Before was an unplanned choice as we were browsing through Netflix trying to find and interesting Christmas movie. Though funny at times and includes some great actors, it wasn’t amazing.

Four Christmases was something I’ve never heard before, and as someone who is not a huge fan of rom-com type movies but do not mind watching them, I thought it’ll be a nice light movie to watch one afternoon. Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn actually make a cute couple and though the premise is a little meh, it was enjoyable and at least didn’t make me stop it in the middle of the movie and gave up.

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And finally, one holiday afternoon, lying on my bed alone, I decided to finally find out what all the hype was about and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Yes, I am a 20 year old who has never ever watched this movie before! All in all I did enjoy it. It was fun and funny, and definitely very Christmas-y. It’s sweet and has a great moral story, and overall I really enjoyed it.

The Commuter

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A movie I only watched recently with my friends, I wasn’t very much interested when I heard about it and watched the trailer. Though I am a fan of thrillers, I’ve never watched any of Liam Neeson’s fast-paced, action-packed ones and I was never intrigued to. Therefore I came into this with low expectations, and I wasn’t blown away, but I really enjoyed it.

The direction of the movie slightly felt all over the place, and the story of ex-cop being put in interesting situations normal people wouldn’t have pulled off is a little trope-y. The ending was also a little trope-y, but the entire ride was interesting and the premise was quite unique. With an exciting mystery, though the overall story and the action itself was meh, it was a fun 2 hours.

The Greatest Showman

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My boyfriend and I were both quite interested with this happy people singing and dancing movie ever since we randomly saw its trailer on the cinema before watching another movie. I was intrigued mainly because I wanted to see singing Zac Efron. With an interesting story loosely based on a real person, this movie boasts a list of brilliant cast: Michelle Williams, Zendaya, together with Hugh Jackman as the main character.

With a great combination of catchy songs, great choreography, and okay plot, this was a great family movie. Though I have heard some mixed feelings about the movie, mainly from this video I watched recently saying that the real person depicted in the movie, PT Barnum, was far from the kind loving person in the movie, I do admit that this movie was fun to watch and can be inspiring to a lot of people. A great story, though definitely not the real story.

Certain Women

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This is a movie I’ve been wanting to watch for a long time, because women, and women directors, yay! Also I haven’t heard much praise or even much talk surrounding this movie, but I was still quite intrigued. With a slow pace and lovely music, this is a more of a character study of three women connected loosely to each other. They are workers, mothers, wives, lovers, students. They depict life as a woman and their relationships with other people. I really liked Michelle Williams’s character here, she is the one I could relate to the most and she slightly reminds me of my mother.

For me, the story was lacking and the movie left me feeling a little like, “okay, what now?” in the end. Additionally, it was slightly a little too slow and quiet, and some parts became a little bit boring because of that. However it’s beautifully shot and the actresses were marvellous.

Animation Rewatches: Lilo and Stitch, Moana, and Rise of the Guardians

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This was something unintentional but throughout the span of two months I watched a lot of animated movies! I’ve always loved Lilo and Stitch and it was such fun watching it again with my boyfriend. Stitch is the cutest and I love the warm fuzzy feeling the entire story makes me feel.

Moana was a very recent watch but me and my housemates were in the mood to watch it. The songs were much catchier the second time watching, and I did realize that the story wasn’t that good at all. However Disney can never do anything wrong, and this movie was not my favourite Disney movie ever, but it was very well done.

Another of my teenage favourite was Rise of the Guardians. With great voice actors and and interesting and fresh premise, this movie wasn’t only fun to watch, I also found that it was very memorable. I didn’t forget most of the important events that happened in the movie, even though the last time I watched it was years and years ago. It shows that this was definitely a movie I enjoyed.

The Light Between Oceans

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Michael Fassbender was mainly the reason I picked up this movie, but I have been intending to watch The Light Between Oceans ever since I’ve seen the positive reviews on the book. A historical fiction about a couple unable to have a baby and their dilemma between honesty and love was portrayed beautifully and brought up a lot of consideration and thought surrounding the themes.

It’s slow and lovely, has excellent cinematography, and the setting of the beach and islands, the sea itself, was just beautiful (or am I just a huge lover of sea that I always marvel on movies set near the ocean?). With a lovely story (and also a sweet ending!), amazing acting from both main characters, and on point directing, this was one of the best movies I watched this season.

Coco

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A movie I wasn’t anticipating at all and had no expectations coming into the cinema, I was extremely blown away by how much I enjoyed it. This is Pixar’s latest stand alone movie about a boy trying to find his ancestors, achieving his dreams, and involves many beautiful themes like family, music, remembering the people who have passed away, while told in a unique perspective. With a lovely plot that is exciting to follow even for adults, beautiful songs and great characterization, I loved Coco and my entire movie experience.

Molly’s Game

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Aaron Sorkin does it again! I’ve loved his writing in The Newsroom and The Social Network, and his screenplays are just amazing when done with the right actors, and I had high hopes for his newest movie, Molly’s Game. With Jessica Chastain as a tough, ruthless businesswoman who is both gorgeous and smart, this movie is filled with exciting premise on a peek of the gambling world I have never known about. The dialogues were excellent and the plot gripping, though there weren’t as many twists and turns and oh-my-God-that’s-awesome moments. It did make me tear up, it did not make me bored for a single second, and with characters that you love to hate, a story that feels so real and exciting, this was a wonderful movie to watch.

About   Letterboxd

What are some of your favourite movies from the past month?

 

Tried and Tested: Cat Cafe Bits and Kittens

Hello everyone and welcome to a new segment in my blog called: Tried and Tested! In this series of posts, I travel around the world to try different restaurants and review my experiences there to share with you, just in case you’re interested to visit the city one day!

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A small cafe located slightly away from the busy city center of The Hague, lies a slice of cozy, adorableness filled with little furred friends. If you are looking to stay warm from the windy, rainy, gloomy weather of The Netherlands, and don’t mind getting some fur stuck in your clothes here or there, be sure of visit The Hague’s Cat Cafe.

Located in Piet Heinstraat, next to other cute cafes and small antique stores, stands De Kattencafe Ditjes en Katjes, or Bits and Kittens in English. Placed around four tram stops away from the city center, you definitely have to plan your day around this place if you really want to visit the cafe. Added to the fact that you might have to reserve your place and time, especially on the weekends, this cafe gets quite the amount of visitors with a limited amount of space.

As me and my boyfriend passed through the large window looking into the cafe, we already spotted three cats lounging by the window, waiting to be petted. As usual for every cat cafe, house rules are established for the visitors: disinfect yourself before coming inside the cafe, don’t feed the cats, don’t disturb them when they’re sleeping, and watch your children not to hurt the cats are some of them. Entering the tiny space you are invited with warmth lighting and comfy decorations – fluffy chairs, wooden tables with a tiny kitchen in between them. The cafe itself is not big – we have several tables on the ground floor and an additional three or four tables on the second floor overlooking the ground floor.

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After ordering some specialty tea they also sell in bags to bring home, I couldn’t wait to try and get to know all the cats. We chose to sit on the top floor with the table overlooking the other sofas and chairs below, and of course the cats. With the cats’ beds and playing areas scattered throughout the cafe, it was clear that the cats here were a fan of sleeping and not playing. I spotted only one cat on the second floor, silently snoring on a small chair in the corner. The rest of the cats were lying around on the window sill. I realized later why: it was warm and dry there, where the heater was located.

I took my time petting and scratching the fluffy cats around the cafe, and afterwards I settled back into my table and enjoyed my tosti. The menu they provided was not out of the world; a selection of breakfast menus, some sandwiches cutely named with cat puns, some toasted bread with cheese, soups, coffee, tea, and wine. The pesto, cheese, and chicken tosti I had was warm with wonderful bread, and the tea was served in a cute teapot with a cat ornament on top. The prices are very affordable and tasted great.

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The Cat Cafe Bits and Kittens boasted in its sustainability, claiming that most of the ingredients are organic or obtained from local suppliers. Working together with the local government, they adopted their cats from the Haags Dierencentrum, and the furniture and cat furniture are also secondhand or vintage. They also sell a handful of cat-themed merchandises: from t-shirts, totebags, mugs, and jewelry. It was a lovely concept, and the vintage decoration they provided gave a wonderful, cozy atmosphere to the entire establishment.

 

It’s not a huge cafe, and if you’re not that into cats, this is probably not worth the trip for you. But for me this is perfect, and I didn’t mind traveling slightly away from my usual places to hang out to visit the cafe. The cats look fat, happy and well cared for. The service from the two people serving us was lovely. I wished I’d tried to coffee to find out if it’s good or not, but the tea was good and warm.

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After sitting around and having fun watching all the sleeping cats for around an hour and a half, unfortunately we had to go. My heart was bursting with glee over the overload of cuteness, and as a student living in an apartment in a foreign country who is unable to keep my own cat, this is the only way I can actually own a cat, though only for a few hours. With a lovely and snug atmosphere, I will definitely go back to this cat cafe.

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Have you ever been to a cat cafe?

 

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Why Audiobooks Will Be a Thing for Me in 2018

Audiobooks. Such a new and foreign aspect for a conventional reader such as me. Though audiobooks have existed for years and years, as a person who has always bought her books and doesn’t have a local library with an audiobook collection, the thought of reading audiobooks had never crossed my mind.

Until last year when I saw a promotion for Amazon’s Audible that lets you pay only $5 instead of $15 for the first three months of our subscription. I only had until the end of the week to get that promo. After days of research and consideration, I signed up.

I stumbled upon this article in Literary Hub not too long ago, discussing whether audiobooks do count as reading. Of course this has been a huge source of discussion in the book community. Loads of other blogs have written about this dilemma. In the article, James Tate Hill told us how he suffered with a reading disability: he had disrupted vision and was even registered as legally blind. He found solace in audiobooks, starting out in a local library for the blind, picking up books (in the form of cassettes) that were made into movies he had enjoyed.

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What I know for sure is this: Sooner or later, the voice in my ears ceases to be a voice. It becomes the words, the words become sentences, and the sentences become the story. At some point, the voice in my ears merges with my own voice the way the words on a page once became my own inner voice when I still read print.

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Ultimately, the article was more about his thoughts on reading as a person who basically could only read in the conventional way other people read, when accompanied with a magnifying glass, and how he even did an English major because of his life of reading. But did all the books he listened to count as books he had read? Throughout his life he had been struggling with how people judged him for that. The author even bought paperbacks of books he’d “read”, just to showcase in a bookshelf in his house that he, as an English major, had read these books.

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Alone in my bedroom when I was 16, popping tape after tape into my talking book player, it didn’t matter if I was reading or listening. The book titles on the side of the green cartons were the same as the copies found on the shelves of bookstores and regular libraries. They were the same authors. The words in my ears were the same words other people saw when they held a book in their hands.

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For me, audiobooks are definitely books. For my first credit in Audible, after more research, I chose Aziz Ansari‘s Modern Romance. As a huge lover of Parks and Recreation (though I actually didn’t really like Aziz’s character Tom Haverford in the show), and recently watching Master of None and loving it, I had heard that Modern Romance was a great audiobook for beginners.

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A nonfiction book written by Ansari and a psychologist Eric Klinenberg, this is a study on romance in the world filled with technology: comparing how people found their soulmates decades ago with how dating is like in the modern days. Subjects ranging from texting, dating apps, divorce rate, romance in other cultures, and monogamy were discussed in a concise, statistical way but added with Ansari’s personal flair. Here and there I would chuckle at his comments and ways he would change his accent, and I was already intrigued when I read the sample audio of the book with him mocking us as lazy people who was too lazy to read their own books.

Though the subject was far from anything I would really pick up randomly in the bookstore, the author and narrator’s unique take on reading the book out loud for us was really what made me enjoy this book a lot. At first, 5 hours of listening to Aziz Ansari talk seemed like a huge thing that I probably won’t be able to handle. However once I got into the rhythm of the audio, I began to find moments where I can continue listening to him: on train rides, while I’m cooking, before I go to sleep.

All in all, I gave the book a 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a well written book that is informative and also humorous. I did not regret reading this in the form of audiobook. It adds more character and more value of enjoyment into my reading experience. I absolutely cannot wait to explore more audiobooks every month. Though my vision is not impaired like Mr Hill’s, I still completely think reading an audiobook is valid, and does count as reading. I have never and will never judge anyone who prefers listening to a book rather than reading it with their eyes. It’s a whole another world to explore! (Full review of my deeper thoughts on the book itself can be found in my Goodreads here)

PS: I realize that when I post this review a lot of you guys are probably already aware of the controversy surrounding Aziz Ansari. However I wish to not discuss about him and the rumours in his personal life. Though it is related to his work, this review is based solely on the book, my reading experience, and not at all about Aziz Ansari the famous actor and whatever he has done in the past.

Books2  Goodreads

Any thoughts on audiobooks? Any recommendations? Drop them by in the comments down below! Until next Sunday for another post at Ayundabhuwana’s Blog!