Review: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Books, Novel, Review

09a10e231450e8ef250329c7c9fbdc1e:: author: Jan Philipp Sendker  :: published: 2012 :: my rating: 4/5 :: genre: novel :: goodreads

Hello my lovely friends! This book was a part of my June TBR list and I have already started reading the second book in this two book series.

Synopsis from goodreads:

A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

My Review:

Suspenseful, chilling and captivating. This novel will have you turning it’s pages in order to learn more about the tale that brings two unassuming characters together. The love and commitment that each character shows is refreshing and will leave you breathless. Originally written in German, it is not hard to see why this book was such a hit. The protagonist of the story, Julia, wishes to unearth her father’s past after his sudden disappearance the day after her graduation. Spurred by her mother’s indifference, and her father’s mysterious personality, Julia travels to Burma in hopes to gain insight into the past her father had strictly hidden. Join Julia as she unravels a love story so innocent, pure and strong that it withstands the test of time.

Sendker does a phenomenal job in his debut novel by bringing to life characters and a plot that will have you breathless. Instead of enticing the reader with a dark, secret past that Julia’s father may have harbored, Sendker presents an innocent, pure, strong love story. Shrouded by superstitions and a strong sense of filial duty follow a blind young monk and a poor crippled girl in pre-WWII Burma find a love and trust that cannot be broken. This story is heavily influenced by fairy-tale romanticism and opens a door to the Burmese cultures and values. I found the book hard to put down, and although there were large gaping plot holes (like why did Tin Win never return to his first love?), this fairytale is a love story that most dream of. The book kept me fully engaged with it’s simple, yet beautiful writing, and there was a lot of wisdom to be garnered from the simple Burmese traditions.

Favorite quotes:

“He expected nothing more from life. Not because he was disappointed or embittered. He expected nothing because there was nothing of importance that he had not already experienced. He possessed all the happiness that a person could find. He loved and was loved. Unconditionally.”

The greatest theme in this book is love. The love that Tin Win holds for Mi Mi is intense, pure, overwhelming and genuine. She is who liberates him from isolation and teaches him the delicacies of life and joy. This quote captures the extent of his love towards her and I believe is a description of the love many want to receive.

“Eyes and ears are not the problem… It is rage that blinds and deafens us. Or fear. Envy, mistrust. The world contracts, gets all out of joint when you are angry or afraid.”

After Tin Win becomes blind, he is taken to a monastery where he meets his greatest mentor U May. It is here that Tin Win learns that blindness is not an impairment, in fact, the removal of the superficial aspects of life can even be seen as a blessing. Tin Win is taught the detriments of fear, envy and mistrust, and the blindness that those emotions cause. This is a universal truth that must be acknowledged, and this quote is just an example of the nuggets of wisdom Sendker offers his readers.

An easy read, this book is for anyone who wants a fairytale-esque love story that is rooted in traditional values of commitment, loyalty and purity.





June To Be Read

Books, Bucket List, To Be Read

Hello my lovely friends! I know this is a little late, but better late than never right? Here are a couple of books that I hope to read this month and that I thought I would share with you. You can checkout my goodreads “To Read” list here and my June TBR list here. Enjoy!

(These are in no particular order, just by published date from new to old)

:: book: The Way I Used to Be :: author: Amber Smith :: published: 2016 :: genre: novel :: goodreads


Synopsis from goodreads:

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year.

I believe the timing of the book is perfect in light of the Stanford Rape case.The victim’s statement in the Stanford Rape case was recently published, and I encourage everyone to read her raw thoughts and insight to what she had to endure. Here is a short excerpt:

“A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did.”

:: book: The Art of Healing Voices :: author: Jan-Philipp Sendker :: published: 2014:: genre: novel :: mystery ::  goodreads


Synopsis from goodreads:

A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

Originally written in German and translated into English by Kevin Wiliarty, this book is a part of a two part series was a huge hit in Europe. It is said to deal with the moral obligation and dilemma of following your heart or listening to your head.

:: book: Vicious :: author: V.E. Schwab :: published: 2013:: genre: novel :: fantasy :: young adult :: goodreads


Synopsis from goodreads:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

BUM BUM BUUUUUUUM, this book was originally mentioned by @clockworkbibliophile in her Review  in which she raved about how much she loved the book. I can’t wait to start reading!

:: book: The End of Everything :: author: Megan Abbott :: published: 2011 :: genre: novel :: nonfiction ::  goodreads


Synopsis from goodreads:

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Hood and her next-door neighbor, Evie Verver, are inseparable, best friends who swap clothes, bathing suits, and field-hockey sticks and between whom, presumably, there are no secrets. Then one afternoon, Evie disappears, and as a rabid, giddy panic spreads through the balmy suburban community, everyone turns to Lizzie for answers. Was Evie unhappy, troubled, or upset? Had she mentioned being followed? Would she have gotten into the car of a stranger?
Compelled by curiosity, Lizzie takes up her own furtive pursuit of the truth. Haunted by dreams of her lost friend and titillated by her own new power as the center of the disappearance, Lizzie uncovers secret after secret and begins to wonder if she knew anything at all about her best friend.

To be honest, the girl in a bathing suit on the cover reminded me of summer which is the main reason why I picked it up. The synopsis sounded pretty interesting as well.

:: book: While I Was Gone :: author: Sue Miller :: published: 2000 :: genre: novel ::  goodreads

5176Synopsis from goodreads:

Jo Becker has every reason to be content. She has three dynamic daughters, a loving marriage, and a rewarding career. But she feels a sense of unease. Then an old housemate reappears, sending Jo back to a distant past when she lived in a communal house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Drawn deeper into her memories of that fateful summer in 1968, Jo begins to obsess about the person she once was. As she is pulled farther from her present life, her husband, and her world, Jo struggles against becoming enveloped by her past and its dark secret.

This book I found in the free section of the library, and it looked intriguing so of course I brought it home with me.

:: book: In the Time of the Butterflies :: author: Julia Alvarez :: published: 1995:: genre: novel :: nonfiction ::  goodreads


Synopsis (shortened) from goodreads:

Set during the waning days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in 1960, this extraordinary novel tells the story the Mirabal sisters, three young wives and mothers who are assassinated after visiting their jailed husbands.
Alvarez’s controlled writing perfectly captures the mounting tension as “the butterflies” near their horrific end. The novel begins with the recollections of Dede, the fourth and surviving sister, who fears abandoning her routines and her husband to join the movement. Alvarez also offers the perspectives of the other sisters: brave and outspoken Minerva, the family’s political ringleader; pious Patria, who forsakes her faith to join her sisters after witnessing the atrocities of the tyranny; and the baby sister, sensitive Maria Teresa, who, in a series of diaries, chronicles her allegiance to Minerva and the physical and spiritual anguish of prison life.

Thursday Quotables: 6.9.16

Books, Historical Drama, Thursday Quotables

//book: The Kite Runner // author: Khaled Hosseini // genre: historical drama // drama // goodreads

Hello my lovely friends, I wanted to share with you a couple quotes form The Kite Runner today that I believe not only portray the culture, but insightful truths that are relevant across cultures. This jarring book has been a personal favorite, and I have read it multiple times both on my own and for assignments in school. Each time, I am reminded at the simplicity and extremity of love and loyalty and the guilt and pain that can mold or future.

The Kite Runner was the first time I was exposed to the cruelty that humans are capable of, and my primary read through left me shocked. My subsequent reading, however, revealed to me the promise of redemption and the series of unfortunate events that can arise from jealousy. Hopefully these quotes will encourage you to start this book!

Beginning with friendship:

“For you, a thousand times over”

Hassan, the servant and friend of Amir (the protagonist of the story), was brought up to be devout, loyal and kind. Although they have the same father, the illegitimate child Hassan is entrusted in the care of Ali. (Ali is the servant of Babba, Amir’s father.) Hassan is taught to cater to Amir’s every need, and instead of nurturing resentment or bitterness, Hassan’s loyalty grows. It is this loyalty that eventually leads up to the event that leads to Amir’s heartless betrayal.

“Better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.”

Babba hates lying and believes it to be the root of all sin and evil and ensures that his son is taught this fact. Imagine Amir’s horror when he learns that Babba’s has lied to him about the identity of his own half brother, and the despicable acts he forced his half brother to endure. This universal truth is clearly depicted and beautifully phrased here.

“Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don’t have to say anything – that is how, it is between people who are each other’s first memories”

To be that connected with someone, and to share that friendship is phenomenal and uncommon.  This statement provides insight into the strong bond Amir and Hassan shared, and the danger of jealousy that has the ability to rip apart these bonds.

“I’m so afraid. Because I’m so profoundly happy. Happiness like this is frightening…They only let you this happy if they’re preparing to take something from you.”

To conclude, here is a quote that I believe embodies the culture of the unprivileged class in Afghanistan and the predicament that many face. With each bout of happiness and joy, there is an expectation of sorrow or loss. This also presents the reader with an insight into the thoughts and stress those in that situation are forced to face.

This book was an eye-opener to me about the cruelty of life, danger of jealousy and need for redemption. Pick up this book to follow Amir as he endeavors to not only seek forgiveness, but find love and hope in a war torn land.


Wordless Wednesday: 6.8.16

Bucket List, Food, Recipes, Wordless Wednesday

bucketHello my beautiful friends, here are a two recipes that I have tried and loved, along with one that I will be trying in the coming week and uploading a review on. Enjoy!

roasted carrots with parsley and thyme // snack // prep: 10m // cook: 30m // rating: 5/5 //  recipe

For those of you in need of a healthy snack to munch on while reading a book, look no farther. Ditch the potato chips and indulge yourself with a sweet and savory snack that will sate your hungry cravings while giving you a boost of vitamin A. Carotenoids are known to help combat free radicals due to their  strong antioxidant powers.

I have never enjoyed eating carrots, and you will never see me eating them raw. I have found, that roasting the carrots produces a snack that is sweet and delectable. I tend to hold back on the parsley and thyme, and add honey to this recipe to create a more pleasant flavor. For those of you who like a more bittersweet taste, make sure to load up on the parsley and thyme.


  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled quartered or cut into sixths lengthwise depending on the size, then into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a sheet pan or a baking dish large enough to fit all of the carrots in a single layer. Place the carrots in a large bowl, and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano. (My alteration: add some honey for a more sweet flavor)
  2. Spread in an even layer in the prepared pan or baking dish. Cover with foil, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Uncover, and if the carrots are not yet tender, turn the heat down to 375 degrees and return to the oven for 10 to 15 more minutes until tender. Add the parsley, stir gently, and taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

This delicious snack should be stored in a refrigerator and can be kept for 4 days.

 hoisin pork with rice noodles // meal // prep: 15m // cook: 15m / serving: 4 // rating: _/5 // recipe


This is a dish I have yet to try, but am dying to taste. The spicy asian pork and noodle combination has me drooling at the pictures, and surprisingly the dish only totals to about 391 calories per meal!


  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3.5 tablespoons sesame oil or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 dash fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar + a squeeze of lime if you have it
  • 5 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1 piece fresh grated ginger (1-2 tablespoons)
  • 1 minced hot pepper (i.e. jalapeno, chili pepper, etc)
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)
  • 1½ lbs. pork cut into thin strips (mine was called “pork stroganoff”)
  • 9 oz. rice noodles
  • grated carrots, chopped scallions, chopped peanuts, cilantro


  • Whisk all the sauce ingredients together (soy sauce, water, oil, honey, sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, peppers, hoisin, and peanut butter). You could also puree the sauce in a food processor to get the garlic, peppers, and ginger smooth.
  • Marinate the pork in the sauce overnight or for at least a few hours. I did mine overnight and then some, about 15 hours.
  • Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and stir-fry the pork until browned on the outside. I found that there wasn’t a whole lot of extra sauce after marinating, but I discarded the little bit that was left.
  • Cook your rice noodles according to package directions. Keep a little bit of liquid with the noodles to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Top with pork, carrots, scallions, peanuts, cilantro, and extra sauce of choice (more hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sweet chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, etc). This is definitely a build-your-own kind of thing – just throw whatever you like in there with the noodles.

chocolate panini // dessert // prep: 10m // serving: 4 // rating: 4/5 // recipe

For a nice, warm, toasty dessert, that is easy and fun to make, try the chocolate panini. The first time I made this was at the home of the family I babysit for. I was unable to find their panini press, and ended up making it at the stove with two pans! (I tell you this to show you that it is indeed possible…)

This delectable flavor will have you craving for more, and is best served with some fruit to offset the overwhelming sweetness. Substitute nutella or any other chocolate to your liking, as I have found that using a chocolate bar also works! Also, feel free to deviate from the recipe and use less butter and chocolate, and even add marshmallows. I found this to be extremely sweet, and although loved by the boys, it is intense


  • 8 3/4-inch thick slices challah bread or Hawaiian sweet bread (my alteration: I used regular bread of any sort, whole wheat or white, to reduce calories and sweetness)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 – 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
    (my alteration: I also added marshmallows to add a s’more like quality)
  • Powdered sugar


  • Heat a panini press or a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, brush one side of each bread slice with some of the melted butter. Place half of the bread slices on a work surface, buttered side down; sprinkle with chocolate, covering the bread to within 1/4-inch of the crust. Top with remaining slices, buttered sides up. Place sandwiches, 2 at a time, in grill pan; weigh down top of sandwiches with a large heavy skillet.
  • Grill the sandwiches over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until the chocolate is melted and bread is golden brown, turning once halfway through grilling time. Repeat with remaining sandwiches. (Or preheat a covered indoor grill. Place sandwiches, two at a time, in preheated grill, cover, and grill 4 minutes or until chocolate melts and bread is golden.)
  • To serve, cut each sandwich into quarters. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm.


Review: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Books, Novel, Review


:: author: Kim Edwards :: published: 2005 :: my rating: 3/5 :: genre: novel :: goodreads

Hello my lovely friends! This is a book I picked up on a whim from the library (mainly due to the promise of a story about twins). Though interesting, I can’t say that this was necessarily a page turner, nor did I fall in love with the characters. Although the beginning was exciting and suspenseful, I’d have to say that the following chapters left something to be desired.

Synopsis from goodreads:

On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down’s Syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this story that unfolds over a quarter of a century – in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that long-ago winter night. Norah Henry, who knows only that her daughter died at birth, remains inconsolable; her grief weighs heavily on their marriage. And Paul, their son, raises himself as best he can, in a house grown cold with mourning. Meanwhile, Phoebe, the lost daughter, grows from a sunny child to a vibrant young woman whose mother loves her as fiercely as if she were her own

My Review (contains spoilers!):

This novel revolves around a secret that brings one family together, while tearing another apart. Beginning in 1964, Norah Henry gives birth to a pair of twins on a cold winter night. Her husband, David Henry, delivers the babies all while experiencing flashbacks of the day he first met Norah. It is evident that he was completely infatuated by her beauty and even followed her into a lingerie shop in order to get her contact. Norah gives birth to a beautiful baby boy, Paul, and an equally beautiful sister, Phoebe. Phoebe, however, is born with down syndrome. David fears distressing Norah, and in hopes of protecting her, sends Phoebe away with Caroline to a hospital that cares for children with mental disabilities. On her way, Caroline decides to take Phoebe, and begin her life anew. David lies to his wife, saying how Phoebe died during birth, and thus the story begins.

If you’re already confused by the plot presented in the first chapter, have no worries, this book is written in a straightforward, simple manner which serves to accentuate the plot. Each character disappointingly tends to remains quite static, but Edwards attempts to develop each of them by  divulging their thoughts.

The characters seemed to follow archetypal patterns that made it difficult to find the book interesting.  Each plot twist could be easily predicted, which caused the spotlight to be focused on each character. While the male characters tended to remain static throughout the novel, the greatest transformation were with the two female protagonists. However, none of the characters were likable as each had faults that were expounded upon. This inevitably made them unpleasant and hard to relate to. Furthermore, each small details that were emitted caused the entire novel to be unsatisfying. Plot holes such as, how David was able to sign a death certificate for a live baby, left the book incomplete. Although intriguing, the way each character’s actions and thoughts were excused/explained by the secret David created, is also unrealistic and is a pathetic attempt to justify much of the plot. This book touched not only on grief, but on music, redemption, love, mental illness and revival.

Favorite quotes:

“You missed a lot of heartache, sure. But David, you missed a lot of joy.”

The entire premise of this book revolves around David’s secret of giving away his girl. This, he believed, was the right thing to do in order to protect the wife he loved. Instead of expressing his feelings and thoughts, David chooses to do what he believes is best and inconsequentially, brings about a series of unfortunate events.

“He’d kept this silence because his own secrets were darker, more hidden, and because he believed that his secrets had created hers.”

Even as David learns of his wife’s infidelity, he chooses to remain silent because he believes it to be his own fault. Of course the pattern of excusing each others misdemeanors on this secret, soon breaks the entire family apart and forces a distance between David and his family.

A simple read, I would recommend to housewives or those who have time on their hands and needs a late night book.


Thursday Quotables: 6.2.16

Books, Novel, Thursday Quotables

//book: This Side of Paradise // author: F. Scott Fitzgerald // novel // goodreads

Hello my beautiful friends, recently (as in today) I have started F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel that propelled him to fame. This book has been engaging and thus far, intriguing. A collection of memories and impressions and poems, Fitzgerald narrates the life of a narcissist in Fitzgerald’s expected lyrical tone as he accurately embodies the era.

Here are a couple that caught my attention:

“I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.”.

Who hasn’t experienced the fear, enthrallment, and later regret of losing their innocence? Although we are taught to maintain our innocence, and society emphasizes the beauty of it, the allure of losing it is unavoidable. Fitzgerald captures this controversial feeling beautifully.

“We can’t possibly have a summer love. So many people have tried that the name’s become proverbial. Summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the warm balmy nights I dream of in April. It’s a sad season of life without growth…It has no day.”

We all dream of a summer love, but never expect the heartbreak that accompanies it. By shedding a negative light to a otherwise enticing concept, Fitzgerald beautifully describes the unpleasant aspect of a summer romance. This selection carries a melancholy theme, with an eloquence that makes the passage pleasing to the ear.

“I can’t tell you just how wonderful she is. I don’t want you to know. I don’t want any one to know.”

You know you’re in love when you feel the need to hide someone in fear of others knowing of their virtues. The intensity that can often accompany love is exemplified, along with the jealousy that often accompanies love.

Filled with anecdotes about love and life, this book contains so many meaningful quotes that it was impossible to pick one. Enjoy the selections I have chosen, and hopefully this has piqued your interest enough for you to pick up the book!


Wordless Wednesday: 6.1.16

Bucket List, Movies, Wordless Wednesday


Hello my beautiful friends, here are a couple of released movies I am excited for and am planning on watching in the very near future. Personal reviews will be added accordingly under “my thoughts”.

The Jungle Book (2016)

Rated: PG // Rating: 7.9/10 // Time: 106 min // Directed by: Jon Favreau // IMDB


The Jungle Book was originally a collection of stories by renowned English author, Rudyard Kipling. Originally comprised of fourteen short stories, many have been published as short books and their titles, “Rikki Tikki Tavi” are well known. These stories were meant to teach moral lessons, and were followed by a verse. Original drawings were done by Kipling’s father. There have been numerous adaptions to this childhood classic, the newest one being released April 15, and is still playing in select theaters.

my thoughts:

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Rated: PG // Rating: 6.4/10 // Time: 113 min // Directed by: James Bobin // IMDB


A sequel to Alice in Wonderland that was released in 2010, this movie is said to take great liberty in the plot and follows Alice as she returns to Underland only to find the Mad Hatter in a terrible state. With stunning visuals, the last movie didn’t follow the plot and was bone dry. This sequel is loosely based on “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carrol, and once again it has been said that the visuals are phenomenal, but the plot dry and characters not developed.

my thoughts:

 The Book Thief (2013)

Rated: PG-13 // Rating: 7.6/10 // Time: 131 min // Directed by: Brian Percival // IMDB


my thoughts:

My Fair Lady (1964)

Rated: approved // Rating: 7.9/10 // Time: 170 min // Directed by: George Cukor // IMDB


The archetype for many classics and modern literature, this movie is about a professor attempting to take a young woman and make her presentable. “The Awakening”, a classic by Kate Chopin follows this plot and is the reason this movie piqued my interest. Along with the fact that Audrey Hepburn is starring.

my thoughts: