My Life in Books

I’m going on holiday to Crete for the next two weeks, so there will be most likely no posts until I get back on the 14th since I don’t know if there will be internet at the hotel. It actually might do me good to not surf the net every day, and I plan on spending every day, all day at the beach, reading, sleeping, tanning and going for the occasional swim. Sounds like heaven to me. It’s my first beach holiday in five years, and boy do I need it. Work has been a pain in the ass in the last couple of months and I just need to get away from London for a while.

Book #159 of 2014: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
I had no clue what this book was about before I started reading it. All I knew was that I loved Murakami’s books, and that surely this book would not be bad either. I liked it well enough, but it is not my favourite Murakami. Tsukuru Tazaki has to come to terms with an event that happened sixteen years ago to be able to move on and do the right thing in the present. At the age of 20 he was cut off from his four best friends without being given any reason, without any explanation, and that sudden loss of his friends nearly destroyed him. Now sixteen years later he finally gets the nudge to seek out answers and starts a pilgrimage to heal a wound that had never really healed. As usual Murakami touches on a lot of issues found in today’s society (mental health issues, abuse, assault, loneliness etc.), and the book has its share of spirituality (I’m not even trying to attempt to explain that, anyone who has read one of Murakami’s books knows what I mean). The book is well-written, and I found it easy to identify with Tsukuru, and who wouldn’t? Most people are on some sort of journey or pilgrimage to find themselves, to find answers. It’s part of living.

Book #159 of 2014: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

I had no clue what this book was about before I started reading it. All I knew was that I loved Murakami’s books, and that surely this book would not be bad either. I liked it well enough, but it is not my favourite Murakami. Tsukuru Tazaki has to come to terms with an event that happened sixteen years ago to be able to move on and do the right thing in the present. At the age of 20 he was cut off from his four best friends without being given any reason, without any explanation, and that sudden loss of his friends nearly destroyed him. Now sixteen years later he finally gets the nudge to seek out answers and starts a pilgrimage to heal a wound that had never really healed. As usual Murakami touches on a lot of issues found in today’s society (mental health issues, abuse, assault, loneliness etc.), and the book has its share of spirituality (I’m not even trying to attempt to explain that, anyone who has read one of Murakami’s books knows what I mean). The book is well-written, and I found it easy to identify with Tsukuru, and who wouldn’t? Most people are on some sort of journey or pilgrimage to find themselves, to find answers. It’s part of living.

Book #158 of 2014: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Finally I got all three of them together on the shelf (they look so good)! Sadly, I was mostly disappointed with Isla’s story. It didn’t touch me as much as Anna’s or Lola’s stories did, and it might also have been a case of bad timing. I read 9 books last week, and most of them I loved and/or they struck some chord within me. Unfortunately Isla didn’t quite measure up to most of these great books. If I had read Isla after some disappointing books maybe I would feel differently, I don’t know. Probably it was all the hype and the build-up of unreasonably high expectations that the book simply could not meet. I spent a lovely couple of hours reading it, but I didn’t like it as much as the other two books in the series.

Book #158 of 2014: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Finally I got all three of them together on the shelf (they look so good)! Sadly, I was mostly disappointed with Isla’s story. It didn’t touch me as much as Anna’s or Lola’s stories did, and it might also have been a case of bad timing. I read 9 books last week, and most of them I loved and/or they struck some chord within me. Unfortunately Isla didn’t quite measure up to most of these great books. If I had read Isla after some disappointing books maybe I would feel differently, I don’t know. Probably it was all the hype and the build-up of unreasonably high expectations that the book simply could not meet. I spent a lovely couple of hours reading it, but I didn’t like it as much as the other two books in the series.

Book #157 of 2014: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

One of the best books I read last week, though admittedly there were lots of great books I read last week. This book was in parts not easy to read. The story is set in a world where parents can sign their children away to be “unwound” meaning that their bodies will be taken apart surgically and the body parts will be implanted into people who have need of that particular “item”. The reasoning behind this is that the children will not die, but technically live on, just not in one piece but in many little pieces.

This itself, and the circumstances that made it possible for something like this to become lawful (yes, this is not illegal and the root cause was the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate that is going on in real life right now) I found already hard to stomach, but I didn’t think Shusterman would actually go so far and describe such an unwinding in detail from the perspective of the boy being unwound. That scene was disturbing, not in a graphic sense. The boy’s blood had been exchanged for some pain killing solution, and they kept him conscious throughout the entire procedure. He couldn’t see or feel what was going on, but imagine lying in an OR seeing doctors and nurses moving around you, hearing what is going on while fully knowing that they are taking your body apart, bit by bit. Just thinking about it, is making me sick.

This is a book that made me think, and for this reason alone it is a good book in my eyes. It also is well-written, and for once the story is not just told from the teenagers that are about to tear down a dystopian society, but also from the perspective of some of their opponents, and I really liked that different view which helped to provide a much bigger picture of the kind of world Connor, Risa, Lev and other “Unwinds” have to live in . I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Book #156 of 2014: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
This book scared me a bit. Of course I have no idea how likely it is for an asteroid to hit the moon and move it a bit closer to Earth and hence screw with the natural environment on the planet, but technically it should be possible. Pfeffer drew a very realistic (Scientists may have another opinion, I don’t care) picture of what life might be like when tsunamis and changes in water currents etc, have destroyed most of the coasts and submerged islands, when volcanic activity has become so bad that summer is cut short and winter seems to last forever, when freak storms disrupt the normal daily life. Food becomes scarce, water becomes scarce and then there is the issue of keeping warm and I won’t even get started on the diseases that spread and decimate the population even further.
The book details all of that, showing how life changes for Miranda, her two brothers and her mum, and that in the end it becomes hard even to just hold onto the hope that things will get better. The only thing I’m going to criticize is the end of the book. I think it would have made a much better and more dramatic end without revealing whether Miranda ever made it into town or not, like in”The Giver” where it’s the reader who decides if Jonas’ story has a happy end or not. There are three more books in this series, so a cliffhanger makes sense in my eyes. I might revise that opinion once I have started the next book.

Book #156 of 2014: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This book scared me a bit. Of course I have no idea how likely it is for an asteroid to hit the moon and move it a bit closer to Earth and hence screw with the natural environment on the planet, but technically it should be possible. Pfeffer drew a very realistic (Scientists may have another opinion, I don’t care) picture of what life might be like when tsunamis and changes in water currents etc, have destroyed most of the coasts and submerged islands, when volcanic activity has become so bad that summer is cut short and winter seems to last forever, when freak storms disrupt the normal daily life. Food becomes scarce, water becomes scarce and then there is the issue of keeping warm and I won’t even get started on the diseases that spread and decimate the population even further.

The book details all of that, showing how life changes for Miranda, her two brothers and her mum, and that in the end it becomes hard even to just hold onto the hope that things will get better. The only thing I’m going to criticize is the end of the book. I think it would have made a much better and more dramatic end without revealing whether Miranda ever made it into town or not, like in”The Giver” where it’s the reader who decides if Jonas’ story has a happy end or not. There are three more books in this series, so a cliffhanger makes sense in my eyes. I might revise that opinion once I have started the next book.

Book #155 of 2014: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

A lot of readers on tumblr seem to have read this book, at least I’ve seen a lot of pictures of this book making the rounds so I decided to check it out. The book follows Samantha Reed, who for most of her life has watched the Garretts and their messy, loud and happy life next door while sharing a big, clean (and boring) house with her older sister and her mother who is the state senator and decided to run for this office again. While Sam’s sister spends her last summer before college off with her boyfriend, her mum throws herself into campaigning, leaving Sam with lots of time to spend with Jase, one of the eight Garrett children.

When I started reading this book it reminded me a lot of “Lola and the Boy Next Door”, but thankfully there were less and less similiarities with each chapter. The story took of slow, but as it was beautifully written I didn’t mind. Towards the end the more serious tones that had remained in the background at the beginning took centerstage and there was quite a lot of drama. It’s really hard to explain without giving anything away. I really, really liked this book; its tone and its characters, well, except for Sam’s mum who I’d have loved to give a kick in the ass so that she’d wake up and see her campaign partner for the scumbag he is.

Cinda Willimans Chima - Heir Chronicles Book Post
Book #134 of 2014: The Warrior Heir Book #136 of 2014: The Wizard Heir Book #139 of 2014: The Dragon Heir Book #140 of 2014: The Enchanter Heir (not pictured)
Confession: These books lured me in with their beautiful cover design. I did check out a short summary what these books were about and what I read was good enough for me to give them a try. I’m not going to summarise the plot here, if you want to know what these books are about check them out on goodreads. I liked the books, but I have read better books in this genre. The writing got better from the second book onwards in my opinion. I’m not saying that it was bad, but it felt a bit lacklustre. I’m not even sure if that was really what felt off about “The Warrior Heir”, but this is me putting it in words as best as I can. The last instalment in this series will be published this autumn so I won’t have to wait too long before I know how the story ends. I hope the last book will be just as pretty, because I’m a sucker for beautiful book covers.

Cinda Willimans Chima - Heir Chronicles Book Post

Book #134 of 2014: The Warrior Heir
Book #136 of 2014: The Wizard Heir
Book #139 of 2014: The Dragon Heir
Book #140 of 2014: The Enchanter Heir (not pictured)

Confession: These books lured me in with their beautiful cover design. I did check out a short summary what these books were about and what I read was good enough for me to give them a try. I’m not going to summarise the plot here, if you want to know what these books are about check them out on goodreads. I liked the books, but I have read better books in this genre. The writing got better from the second book onwards in my opinion. I’m not saying that it was bad, but it felt a bit lacklustre. I’m not even sure if that was really what felt off about “The Warrior Heir”, but this is me putting it in words as best as I can. The last instalment in this series will be published this autumn so I won’t have to wait too long before I know how the story ends. I hope the last book will be just as pretty, because I’m a sucker for beautiful book covers.

Book #154 of 2014: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
This post contains spoilers.
This is the last instalment in the “All Souls Trilogy” and I loved it. The grand final wasn’t as full of action as I had expected, but emotions were running high and there were lots of parts that made me almost cry (and some laugh out loud). Most questions were answered though I felt that some things could have been explained a bit clearer. I loved how some of the characters from Diana’s and Matthew’s stint in 1590/91 appeared again, especially Jack. Harkness’ writing was solid, and there is potential material for more stories from the world she created which gives me hope that there might be another book, maybe with the adventures of Diana’s and Matthew’s half vampire, half witch children Philip and Rebecca.

Book #154 of 2014: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

This post contains spoilers.

This is the last instalment in the “All Souls Trilogy” and I loved it. The grand final wasn’t as full of action as I had expected, but emotions were running high and there were lots of parts that made me almost cry (and some laugh out loud). Most questions were answered though I felt that some things could have been explained a bit clearer. I loved how some of the characters from Diana’s and Matthew’s stint in 1590/91 appeared again, especially Jack. Harkness’ writing was solid, and there is potential material for more stories from the world she created which gives me hope that there might be another book, maybe with the adventures of Diana’s and Matthew’s half vampire, half witch children Philip and Rebecca.

Gayle Foreman Book Post

This post is a bit spoilerish.

Book #151 of 2014: Just One Day
Book #152 of 2014: Just One Year
Book #153 of 2014: Just One Night (novella)

I read “If I Stay” and “Where She Went” earlier this year, so I had an idea what to expect with another of Foreman’s books, but as it turned out I was insufficiently prepared. These three books are heart-wrenching, beautifully written and made me want to get up, get home, pack a bag and head to Paris. These books gave me a serious case of “Wanderlust”, and I am already planning a weekend in Paris for my birthday later this year. But back to the books: The story is a typical coming of age story and almost every reader should be able to identify with Allyson and/or Willem and should have encountered one or more of the issues these two have to deal with (overly protective and strict parents, first time abroad without adult supervision, first mistakes, starting uni/college, losing a loved one etc.). It’s what makes this story so appealing, and why it’s so easy to get sucked in and feel for Allyson when she leaves Paris the first time, or for Willem who is truly lost after the death of his father, and you just want those two to find each other again. I stayed up long past my bedtime because I couldn’t put down “Just One Day”, and I’m still not over these books which might take a while. It has been a while since a book has struck such a chord within me.

When my friends ask why I would want to stay home on a Friday night:

Books that make me stay up into the wee hours of morning on a working day are my favourite kind of books.

My book impression posts have been a bit hoi polloi recently. I will post about the Heir Chronicle books later next week, although I’ve finished the books over a week ago already. I also can’t be arsed to write posts for “Sky on Fire” (Monument 14 #2) and “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson which was a great read btw. I’m currently on a roll regarding my reading, and I’d rather read than post about the books I read, but I’ll try to do better in the future.

Book #150 of 2014: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (re-read)
The second book in the All Souls trilogy. I have finally managed to start the last book “The Book of Life” today.

Book #150 of 2014: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (re-read)

The second book in the All Souls trilogy. I have finally managed to start the last book “The Book of Life” today.