Saturday, December 11, 2010

Finally 8 to 18 and I'm running late for an appointment

8 Throne of Jade, Naomi Novik
Second book in the Temeraire series. Nothing much to complaint about. There's more dragons and a great What If that explores how 1800s China will be like with dragons. Perhaps the only thing that bother me is the description of Thousand Century Eggs (I love to eat that by the way).

9 Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

I hate Stephanie Meyer. I recommended this book to my friend (with loads of !!!!!!!!!!!) but when she spied Meyer's name on the book, she set it down immediately and walked out of the bookstore. WHYYYYYY. DAMN YOU MEYER.

10 Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
"WOW HOW IS COLLINS GONNA TOP THIS?"

11 Portugue
se Irregular verbs, Alexander McCall Smith
I'm beginning to feel that I just can't figure out humor. ._.

12 Turn Coat, Jim Butcher
Book 11 of the Dresden Files. Ahh I love Jim Butcher

13 The year of the flood, Margret Atwood

The other half of Ox and Crake and focuses on two women. I love the social criticism in this. Mystery Burger sounds totally yucky and I fully recommend this book.

14 Another Note: The BB Los Angeles case, original concept by Takeshi Obata and Ohba, written by NISIOISIN and, translated by Andrew Cunningham
A pretty good serial murder case and a sinister character who is arguably far more psychotic than Kira. Plus the backstory of how NA meets L. There's good plot twist - I didn't see it coming - although the best part of the book is the narrator. OH HI THERE MELLO!

15 悲伤逆流成河 by 郭敬明

First non-English book of the year! Only for people who enjoy tragedy for the sake of tragedy. The ending stinks to the power of ten. But really i should have figured out from the english title of this book it's gonna suck. Cry me a sad river? Wut?

16 小王子
Little Prince in Chinese. Fairly easy to read. Why, I believe my Chinese has improved!

17 M is for Magic, Neil Gaiman
Meh. There is only one or two stories that stick in my head and they are kind of unglueing right now.

18 Howl Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
I WRONGED YOU DIANA! Fantastic book! I can't believed it took watching the animated film (which differs a lot from the book but is nonetheless awesome) for me to finally read her books. Looks like my childhood irrational fear of her is just irrational. P.S Sophie rules.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Current Progress

It's been a while since I last updated. Currently, I'm only at 25 out of 100 books which is very slow progress! I would need to read 75 books in the remaining 4 months to reach my goals or around 4.5 books per week! Somehow I doubt I can reach my goal this year either.

Of the three smaller goals, I managed to complete reading 5 non-English books (all in Chinese although I intend to try reading one book in Japanese). That's a big surprise! Totally did not expect reaching it when I first set the goal. It is highly likely that I will read at least another 5 more books in Chinese (no thanks to 九把刀 Giddens; his books are fantastic).

Non-fiction is still at a pathetic count of 1...

Currently reading:

1) 猫尾面包店
2) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
3) Black Powder War
4) Sentimental Swordsman, Ruthless Sword (fan translation of 风云第一刀)
5) 上课不要看小说

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

6&7: Graphic Novels

6 It takes a wizard, Thomas Hart and Sean Lam (graphic novel)
Set in a Manhattan that has become hell, the graphic novel has great potential but fails to reach it. The art style might be messy but it works well. However, the ending of the comic leaves the reader feeling cheated as it is not what the plot has been building towards. Has the writer been forced by his editor for this disney ending? It does not matter as I will not be buying it.

7 Solanin, Inio Asano (graphic novel)
The characters strive to escape from their mundane boring lives and to realise their dreams. Nothing is that simple and financial problems intrudes into their lives. The art is breath taking, as expected of Inio Asano. I actually teared up at a certain part and the themes in this manga (japanese comic) are definitely something that the readers can identify with. Well, at least for college undergraduates like me. Growing up is a painful process.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2 to 5

2 His Majesty's Dragon, Naomi Novik
Dragons! Napoleonic Wars! What is there not to love? Perhaps the writing style.

3 V for Vendetta, Alan Moore and David Lloyd (graphic novel)
I enjoyed this more than the film and I love the film.

4 Dance, Dance, Dance, Haruki Murakami
Love this book.

5 Liquid City, Various (graphic novel?)
While there are some hits and some misses, I really like the range of different styles and it showcases works of artists in South East Asia. How awesome is that? I am eagerly awaiting the second volume of this series.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yes... or No?

I have been considering whether I should include Chinese web novel [1] in this bookblog considering the amount of time that has been lost reading them.

My hesitation arises from the quality of the online novels; of the eight (completed or in progress) I readed, only one can be considered be outstanding (and it's not even near completion). The rest either suffered from overuse of clichés (I was reading romances cough), substandard writing or lack of constructive plot. There was one particular novel that had such an awful ending that I was actually shaking my fist at the screen feeling indignant for the readers who actually paid to read it [2]. Good grief. These aren't the kind of books that I feel comfortable writing about except to rant.

So... should I include chinese web novel? some opinions please?

[1] The chinese web novel market is a phenomena unlike any. The average person in China spend on a good percentage of the time the internet reading web novels. With publishing websites such as qidian.com, jjwxc.net etc, authors can easily self-publish on the web. Of course, this also means any Tom, Dick, Mary and Jane can publish their trashy, brain numbing works.

[2] The various websites have their own systems for authors to earn money. jjwxc.net for instance, allows authors to decide from which chapter onwards to implement the VIP payment system. The novel mentioned above has the VIP system at the three quarter mark. Now how did I managed to read the ending if it's locked... well, coughbaidu.comisverypowerfulcough.

Friday, June 18, 2010

1: Yakuza Moon


Finally I have started blogging about the books in 2010. Shoko Tendo's Yakuza Moon is the first of the lot:

1 Yakuza Moon, Shoko Tendo, Louise Heal, Miyazaki Manabu (memoir, NF)

A memoir of a woman who grew up in a Yakuza family. Despite what the cover and the title may indicate, this book does not reveal much about Yakuza. Instead, prejudice and bias against those born in Yakuza family are revealed and it is enlightening.

Apart from the saddening affairs of the narrator, Tendo, falling into a vicious cycle of drugs and terrible choice in men, there really isn't much about Yakuza Moon. It reads like any of those teens in the wrong crowd stories.

One gets the feeling that spacing is used to make the book seemed thicker; there is not much content. The writing is simplistic and there are far too much uses of ellipsis - though I have been told that Japanese are fond of using them.

cont list of book in 2009

42 Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Gregory Maguire (borrow)
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is based on the fairy tale, Cinderella. Narrated by Iris, the novel follows her path from poverty to riches when her mother, Margarethe forms a business-like union with Cornelius van den Meers. While Iris adjusts to her new position, Clara seeks the safety of the kitchen with Iris's mentally challenged sister, Ruth.

I like the concept of the book. However, the writing is dull and monotonous at times. It's hard to get into the novel when you are dozing off with your face smacked onto the book.

43 Kushiel's Justice, Jacqueline Carey

44 Kushiel's Mercy, Jacqueline Carey
Last book in the Imriel trilogy. It wasn't as good as the first Phèdre trilogy. The characters just weren't as likeable and it generally feels like a repetition of the first series. I don't regret buying the book but it could have been better. Much better. Perhaps Carey should just stop drabbling in this universe. I have read reviews about the latest book and they are bad.

45 What I talk about when I talk about Running, Haruki Murkami (borrow, NF)
'Murakami is a robot.' The thought cycled through my head before I managed to squash it. The reason for this nonsensical thought arise from the impossible fact that Murakami seems to not have any injury while training/running for marathons. Indeed, the entire book is about Murakami's love for writing and running. Yet, despite being a memoir, nothing revealing was shown about Murakami.

46 Small Favor (borrow)
The tenth book in the series, things get even more interesting when the Crime Lord of Chicago, Gentleman Johnny Marcone is kidnapped.

47 Norwegian woods, Haruki Murkami (borrow)
Surprising, a straight forward love story from Murakami. Still like it but it really isn't his usual style of writing.

48 Wild sheep Chase, Haruki Murkami (borrow)
Now, this is Murakami's style. I love this book. It's surreal and strange and contemplating.

49 Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Art Spiegelman (borrow, comic)
About a WW2 holocaust survivor.

50 Maus 2, Art Spiegelman (borrow, comic)

51 Stitches, David Small (borrow, comic)
I cannot fathom this book. There is a sense of irony that I am attempting to figure out the comic when I read surreal works of Murakami on a regular basis. Especially since this is a memoir and perhaps require not too much thinking.

52 The Sandman: The Doll's House, Neil Gaiman and too many artists to list (borrow, comic)
Great comic with good pacing and plot that create tension. The comic made me queasy at times despite the lack of graphic content.

53 Blind willow, Sleeping woman, Haruki Murkami (borrow)

54 The Facts In The Case Of The Departure Of Miss Finch, Neil Gaiman (borrow, comic)
Rather disappointed by this. Perhaps if I read this before Sandman I would like this better.

55 Mr. Punch, Neil Gaiman (borrow, comics)
Certainly morbid.

56 After Quake, Haruki Murkami (borrow)
Short stories, none of which are particularly memorable except for the one about the Frog and Worm.

57 Vanished Elephant, Haruki Murkami (borrow)
More short stories.

58 Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murkami (borrow)
Another surreal work. But in a more logical manner. Does this makes sense?

59 Let me tell you something about that night, Cyril Wong (borrow)
I may not have loved his poetry but his collection of strange and poignant short stories are a winner for me. I don't do this this book justice at all.

Monday, March 8, 2010

41 is a good Young Adult fiction

41. The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness (borrow, YA)

If the first book is about Todd and a certain someone running for safety, the second book is about the beginning of a war. The book may be uncomfortable to read. Themes of genocide, slavery, gender which are touched upon in the first book, are examined in more details here. It also asks an important question: Does war make monsters out of men?

We see Todd fumbling with this question in the first book. A certain other character (who happens to be one of the narrators) repeats this question again in The Ask and the Answer. The title of the third book coming out next year, is Monsters of Men. where I suppose the question will finally be answered then.

The first book suffers from too much repetition of running and escaping but the pace in the sequel is excellent with plenty of BOOM. Todd and the other narrator are developed further. Of the recurring characters, Davy Prentiss who is rapidly becoming my favourite character in the trilogy which frankly states a lot for this book. I will leave it at that.

Still, I give the author two thumbs up for the guts to write a difficult subject for the YA genre. One wonders if he should have created more chemistry between Todd and Viola and make Todd less of an idiot though.

33 to 40 are creations of Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files is set in a modern day Chicago where Harry Dresden, a private investigator and wizard, helps the police with supernatural cases. The Dresden Files is probably one of the best series in the modern fantasy genre. Jim Butcher uses a writing style that makes the books flow like an action movie with witty banter and it works really well.

I know I described the first book, Storm Front, as nothing remarkable. Apparently the first book is a fluke in terms of pacing (and mainly set up the background for the series). The subsequent books (especially from Grave Peril onwards) are filled with unexpected twists and great pacing that had me on the edge of my seat. While Harry Dresden's saviour complex may irk some, it is minor annoyance amid the plot and the well developed characters, both male and female.

33. Fool Moon
The pacing can be slow at times. Thankfully the pacing problems does not occur again.

34. Grave Peril
Grave Peril can be summarised as 'Shit hits the fan'. This is also the book that hooked me in. It helps that the vampires are not sparkly and we are introduced to some very important recurring characters.

35. Summer Knight

36. Death Masks

37. Blood Rites

38. Dead Beat

39. Proven Guilty

40. White Night

Too lazy to write anything for the rest but it's just good and generally awesome.

Friday, January 22, 2010

2010

Books
Dated photo. I'm too lazy to take a photo of my current very packed shelves.


I have no excuse for not updating this blog. I will try to catch up on all the posts I should have written.

In 2009, I managed to read a total of 59 books out of the expected 100. In retrospect, this is due to the limited amount of books read during the first half of the year (around 10 books).

Of the 59 books, 14 are graphic novels, 6 are young adult fictions, and 5 are non-fiction.

Jim Butcher won the award for most books by a single author with 10 books (Dresden Files series), followed closely by Murakami Haruki with 9 books.

Despite failing to read 100 books in 2009, I decided to try again this year, broken down to the following categories:

10 nonfiction
5 Chinese (or other non-english books)
85 fiction (inclusive of graphic novels)

Hopefully, it can be done this year, especially since I still have around 50 unread books on my shelves.