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2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Carola has read 35 books toward her goal of 52 books.


[Review] 1Q84

1Q84 - Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin, Philip Gabriel

I first picked up this book in late December 2011. Yes, it nearly took me a year to finish. And often enough I was extremely frustrated with this book. Mostly because this book was a deceivingly slow read. As a friend suggested, even the fastest reader could probably not finish this book very quickly. At the same time, I've read far longer books that took me less time and that were more engaging. Plenty of times I had to put 1Q84 down because I just got tired of it.

1Q84 consists of three books. Book ONE probably took me longest to read. The story was slow, there was too much repitition within the book (like: do we really have to read 20 times what Tengo's memory of his mother is?), and everything seemed to go nowhere. I would go as far as describing it as a very long introduction. Book TWO picked up on speed and, unlike what I read in reviews, I didn't think there was as much repetition. Many aspects of the story were finally coming together and, as I remember phrasing on Twitter while reading: 'shit goes down'. This definitely made the story more interesting to read and I finally felt eager to continue. But it was annoying that it took more than 300 pages for this to happen! While reading book THREE, what I was most afraid of was that the whole book was going to have a typical, unsatisfying, Murakami-ish ending. I can live with the endings he gave to his other books (like Sputnik Sweetheart, which worked really well), but I didn't think I could stand such an ending after going through so many frustrations. Thankfully, the story was closed off in a satisfying enough way. There were plenty of loose ends, but nothing that will keep nagging me.

After finishing the book I had to take my time to think it over and give it a rating. For all the frustration I felt while reading, I feel oddly lost now that I've finished it. I can't decide if reading it was worth the 'trouble', but at the same time I was satisfied with the ending. And many aspects of the story, particularly in book THREE, were genius in my opinion. I really have a love-hate relationship with this book. Despite everything, I was close to giving it five stars, but book ONE made me decide on four instead (actually, probably three-and-a-half, but closer to four).

Is this book worth reading? Is it worth the trouble? If you're a patient reader and if you can fight your way through book ONE (and keep your patience during the other two books), then yes. If you expect a work of perfection, you will absolutely be disappointed. If this is your first Murakami book: please put it down!

(Note: It's dangerous for me to write reviews so close to finishing a book, so I wouldn't be surprised if I change my mind a few more times haha...)

[Review] Theories of International Politics and Zombies

Theories of International Politics and Zombies - Daniel W. Drezner

This started out as a fun concept. This book did an okay job at explaining basic international politics theories to the uninterested, but I still found it a disappointment. The introduction was promising, but the rest of the book focused too heavily (in my opinion) on zombies in fiction and not enough on international politics. The author should've either made it clear that fiction plays a main role and focus on that, OR take the joke to the next level and focus more seriously on international politics and completely ignore fiction.

[Review] Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines  - Philip Reeve

I was leaning toward giving this 3 stars as I wholeheartedly agree with the issues my friend Melanie named in her review. But the plot and the worldbuilding and its concepts definitely pulled me toward 4 stars!

[Review] Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska - John Green

Liked this book quite a bit. Not mind-blowing but good enough in its genre.

[Review] Tipping the Velvet

Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters

I was very close to giving this book 5 stars instead of 4. The way the book started is what made me finally decide on 4 stars. I really loved the settings, the context, the descriptions and story-telling, the overall theme. I wasn't too impressed by the first part, where everything seemed just a bit too convenient and 'easy', but fair enough by the time I finished the book I realised how clever it all was, highlighting different social contexts and whatnot.

So yes, I loved the book, and I have a feeling I might love it even more when I re-read it at some point in the future.

[Review] Town of Cats

Town of Cats - Haruki Murakami,  Jay Rubin,  Philip Gabriel

This is an interesting little story by Murakami. But heads up for those who are already reading 1Q84: the story is literally pieced together (or the other way around) from that book. It describes Tengo's relationship with his father, and the trip he takes to the sanatorium. There's nothing in this story that doesn't appear in 1Q84. If you haven't read that however, I can recommend this short story as a standalone.

[Review] Twilight

Twilight  - Stephenie Meyer

I was set on starting this book with an open mind and I was set on finishing this book. I failed on both points. The first few pages were doable, but it went downhill after that. Couldn't stand Bella, reading the book from her point of view, and the whole writing style that came with it. And then I am not even going to talk about everything else that is wrong with this book.

Maybe if I had read this while drunk, as a friend suggested, I might have found it tragically funny. Books like this are the raison d'être of my 'life-is-too-short' shelf. It is sad that, at the peak of my frustration with this book, I did not have my paper copy near me and I wasn't about to throw my e-reader ;(

[Review] The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) - Patrick Rothfuss

I originally gave this book four stars, not five. I guess because, after all the rave reviews, the book was not what I had expected. I can see where its flaws are and how not everyone would give it five stars (looking at you, my dear fellow Sparrow&Nightingalers! I definitely understand your points). I had some mixed feelings here and there while reading. However I must be honest with myself. By the time I finished it, I loved it. I wish I had the second book here with me right now.

[Review] Catch-22

Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

This is going onto my Life is Too Short shelf for now. I will definitely continue reading this in the future though when I finish all books that I do NOT want to set fire to.

[Review] The Black Prism

The Black Prism  - Brent Weeks

I won a give-away for this book.

If I am completely honest, I am not very excited about the book so far. I definitely like fantasy, and I can see how this book is very clever. But I just don't feel like picking up the book and continue reading. The main character, Kip, isn't very likeable and although the writing style of the book is fine, it isn't my cup of tea.

I do hope to finish the book in the future, so this will be a temporary review.

[Review] Prince of Thorns

Prins der Wrake - Mark  Lawrence, Renée Vink

I received this book through the GoodReads give-aways and was really excited about it when the pretty hardcover book arrived.

Prince Jorg has witnessed his mother and younger brother being murdered. As his father is clearly not going to avenge the murder of his wife and son, Jorge runs away from the castle and starts a life of violence.

Now, like many others have said, you will love this book or you will hate it. Admittedly, when I started reading I had doubts. The book is written from Jorg's point of view and his words bite. The first few chapters I couldn't make up my mind on what I thought about the book. I kept wondering what the point of the book was, with all its seemingly purposeless violence, and it kept me curious enough to continue reading. Why exactly is Jorg so full of hate? That question is answered soon enough through the flashbacks, but it just raises more questions. What does Jorg want, what is his goal? Why does he do the things he does?

Well, that is when the plot really starts moving. Throw in a big plot twist and this book becomes mightily interesting! So interesting that I raced through the latter half of the book, eager to find out more, and I was not disappointed.

I was happy to find out that this book is the first volume of what will be a trilogy and I am looking forward to the rest of the series! The only disappointment of this book is that I wish I had read it in English instead of Dutch. The language in the book is strong, and Jorg's tone is painfully sarcastic most of the time. I can't help but wonder what he would sound like in English.

[edit] It's interesting how, after rethinking a review more than a year later, your opinion can change. Only somewhat, though. I still like the book, and I think I still want to read volume 2. But when I was standing in a bookshop, holding King of Thorns in my hand, I was having doubts. I really, with all my passion, hate the the main character Jorg. I object to everything he does. Still, I think a book about an extreme anti-hero that you can impossibly feel any empathy for can be interesting in itself. From what I read of the blurb of King of Thorns, I don't think Jorg will become a good person and I am glad of that. I don't want to like him or to start feeling empathy for him, and I sure as hell hope the author doesn't suddenly make him a hero, a 'cool' person or a nice person. Here's me crossing my fingers!


[Review] Chain Mail: Addicted to You

Chain Mail: Addicted to You - Hiroshi Ishizaki, Rachel Manija Brown, Richard Kim

This book started out as a bit of a train wreck with annoying characters, a simple story, and a lot of Japanese pop culture name-dropping to the point it was annoying (Pocari, Gackt, southeast exit of Shinjuku train station, and I can go on forever). Especially the characters really annoyed me throughout the whole book. The book really didn't get better until about 100 pages in (it's a thin book, so that's about halfway), when there was actually something happening. In all fairness, I did end up staying up late to finish reading because I was curious about the ending. The ending of the book had a plot twist, but at the same time it was a huge anti-climax to me.

If you read it as if it were manga, what Tokyopop usually releases, instead of a novel, your expectations of the book will become more realistic. Considering that, the book wasn't too bad. This is a teenage novel, and I'm not a teenager anymore, but at the same time I've read a lot of other teenage novels that were a lot better than this. I even would have liked the Japanese pop culture aspect of this book if it hadn't felt like it was added to the book desperately.

Good thing I got the book for free.


Wie ein reißender Strom. - Sandra Brown

Won this as my first give-away but unfortunately not my cup of tea (not my genre).

[Review] Death in Midsummer and Other Stories

Death in Midsummer and Other Stories - Yukio Mishima, Donald Keene, Ivan Morris, Geoffrey Sargent

Not my style to be honest. I was incredibly discouraged after the first three stories. I ended up particularly liking Patriotism and Onnagata. Doujoji and The Seven Bridges were okay. I hated Thermos Bottles, and don't really care about the other stories.