September Wrap Up

1. Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu 

Pages: 172
Genre: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Chinese Literature 
Format: Hardcover

September seems to be the month of light reading. This novel was cute and short, it won’t make a giant impact on you, but it’s a great novel if you want to learn about the Youth of Modern China.

2. Buddha: Volume 1: Kapilavatsu by Osamu Tezuka

Pages: 400
Genre: Fantasy, Religion, Historical Fiction, Graphic Novel (Manga)
Format: Hardcover

I’ve always wanted to read a Osamu Tezuka manga, and I finally did. I really I could continue the series, but I got this from the library; A lot of Osamu’s manga is either hard to find or really expensive. 

3. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño 

Pages: 648
Genre: Mystery, Literary Fiction, Spanish Literature
Format: Paperback (Softcover)

I like this novel, but it was a very heavy one so there were points where I had to put it down temporarily. My review of this novel is absolutely horrendous but I can’t really describe why I like this. Something about this guy’s writing is just magical. 

4. Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan 

Pages: 167
Genre: Romance, YA, LGBT, Realistic Fiction
Format: Hardcover

A really sweet and touching novel. David Levithan was able to write a really emotional novel in a matter of 167 pages. A really quick read but it will stab you in the heart. 

Book Review: Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan


Pages: 162 (My version has this amount of pages and all of the ones on Goodreads have more, I’m not sure why that happens.)
Genre: YA, LGBT, Realistic Fiction
Format: Hardcover

I finally jumped on the David Levithan bandwagon, he’s pretty darn popular among teenagers and YA fans. YA has been pretty hit and miss for me for awhile, I don’t hate YA and I’m not a snob about it, but I don’t know, maybe I’m choosing the wrong books. However, I tend to really enjoy the Realistic Fiction genre in the YA area, for some reason, they tend to really impact me or what the internet says “It gives me the feels.”. By the way, talking about YA, I’m actually think of writing a rant on YA, not necessarily a negative one, but just my pros and cons about it. 

Love is the Higher Law is some heavy stuff, despite how short it is. I actually wonder if this book is actually a novella and not a novel, but that’s beside the point. The center plot of this whole novel is 9/11 and how people witnessed the fall of the Twin Towers and the World Trade Center and that tragic event, people slowly moved on. There are three narrators in this novel, Jasper, Claire, and Peter. Through these characters, you to get to witness how they cope with this tragedy and how the tragedy brought them together. Peter and Jasper become romantically involved but their first date was a failure due to the tragedy affecting their feelings and making them question their safety and hope in humanity. Claire has this really thoughtful type of narrative where she seems to talk about everything she feels, one of the most emotional parts of the novel. Jasper and Peter seem to have a really hard time getting their feelings out there because the events were just too confusing and heartbreaking, but they find refuge with family and music. There is also a lot of beautiful sentences that are worth quoting and hanging up somewhere. 

All three of these guys go on a journey of healing. David Levithan pulled this off quite well in 162 pages (in my copy). What I really like about this novel is that David was able to write about 9/11 without sugar coating it. You can feel that claustrophobic sense of fear, grief, and foreboding, and using things like paper and the smell of the air to portray those who had died. Like most YA novels, the vocabulary isn’t too fancy, he doesn’t write like Charles Dickens, I’m not saying that adult novels have extremely advanced vocabulary, but I think you guys know what I mean. Love is the Higher Law is probably the first 9/11 novel I’ve read. It’s really emotional and touching, sweet but not a sugar overdose. 

                                                                  Rating: 5/5

Friday Reads #1

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I know it’s Saturday, but here is my Friday Reads post. This will be a series that will happen every Friday. It will probably also keep my Blog up to date.

1. Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Pages: 163
Genre: YA, LGBT, Romance, Tragedy 
Format: Hardcover

I’m really enjoying this so far. It’s very depressing and heartbreaking, it’s written about the experiences of 9/11 through 3 characters point of view. However, the novel is beautifully written, very emotional, to the point that I can actually feel it, which is what I expected from David Levithan since I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson

2. Know Your Baker by John M. Keller

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Format: E-book

I had gotten this book for free off of a website that provided ebooks, I think it’s called BookBub, it gives you bargains everyday. Know Your Baker happened to be free and it’s pretty darn good. It’s A pretty unknown gem, I think it was published independently, you can find it in physical format, but you won’t find it in Barnes N’ Noble, maybe an Indie bookstore. The publishing company is fairly new and almost unknown. I won’t finish it during the weekend, but when I do, it will be reviewed.

3. Waiting by Ha Jin

Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover

I found this in the library and I have wanting to read Ha Jin’s works, I have Nanjing Requiem but I’ve been wanting to read this one soon. Only If I finished reading Love is the Higher Law.

A Pointless Post: Some Blog Changes

So here are some blog changes that I will make so my blog will look more “legit”, if you know what I mean.

1. Instead of 10/10, it will 5/5 ratings, because I feel like 5 makes more sense.

2. I need to figure out how to use stars as my rating system. I’m kind of technology stupid.

3. Posts won’t be published too often since I am in school and reading gets slowed down.

4. Sometimes blog post text gets messed, like background colors, so please try to ignore it. I have no idea how to fix some things on here.

5. I will occasionally post music reviews, but they won’t be often and I will try not to provide downloads because I’m not sure how and I don’t want to get beat up by the music industry. 

6. If you guys are familiar with the Booktubing or the Book Vlogging community on Youtube, you will probably be familiar with the ‘Book Haul’, ‘Monthly Wrap up’, ‘To-Be-Read’, or ‘Friday Reads’. Here’s the problem, I never stay true to my ‘To-Be Read’ lists and don’t always expect a book review of every book I mention to happen anytime soon. ‘Book Hauls’ won’t happen too often, unless I buy something from school, a rare trip to Barnes N’ Nobles, or online. Although I do have access to books in the library, so maybe I will make a post about that. ‘Friday Reads’ was actually started on Twitter by a Booktuber, it is a trending #hashtag that blows up every Friday on Twitter. I participate in this Friday reading tweet, maybe I will make it a blog post series too? ‘Monthly wrap up’ is also another thing that I’m not sure if I should post because my “to be read’ is never faithful. So maybe I should just post a monthly wrap up, and leave out the to be read. 

Book Review: The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño


Pages: 648
Genre: Mystery, Spanish Literature, Contemporary
Format Paperback

The Savage Detectives, a novel that will either captivate you or leave you utterly confused. Roberto Bolaño was a author I discovered from some photography of a pile of books on the internet. In that pile of books was a copy of 2666, one of Bolaño’s most famous novels, which was  posthumously published. The first thing I noticed about this novel was the giant circle of characters, every time you turn around,a new character appears, the first section was through Juan Garcia Madero’s perspective, where it pretty much centers around his life and joining the Visceral Realists.

All of the characters have their own unique way of speaking or their own voice. After the climax of the story where Alberto tries to recapture Lupe, the second section of the novels starts, this section takes up most of the book and a giant cast of characters are the narrators, Garcia Madero disappears,and you get to read about the life of this whole giant cast, maybe over 50 narrators. These characters all come from different nationalities such as French, German, Mexican, and Chilean. These stories within this one big story center around the mysterious Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, both of them always seemed distanced from their friends. they were seen as these delusional, obsessive poets who were on this journey to find the poetCesárea Tinajero. All of these characters such as Luscious Skin, Amadeo Salvatierra, Alberto Moore, or Rafael Barrios describe their past and daily activities, their association with the visceral realists or their experiences befriending Lima and Belano. They all describe their friendships as either distant or failed. They all feel as they two guys aren’t even real, an enigma. The third section of this novel continues Juan Garcia Madero’s perspective, contining off from the climax, after running away from Alberto, by car. 

The Savage Detectives is known for not having a plot, but if you think it about, it really does. It actually has more than one plot, or maybe the novel follows a theme more than a plot. The Visceral Realists, the two, obsessive poets, Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano, the never ending hunger of literature and poetry, the violence, the lust, the drugs, the hippie or Bohemian lifestyle, this was all based on the literary revolution of Mexican literature and poetry, the life of Roberto Bolaño. Juan Garcia Madero struggles to get his poetry published among the Visceral Realists who seem to be rather delusional, their craze for poetry, their war against mainstream literature such as Octavio Paz, these guys are a bunch Quixotes, as what is described by the reviews on the back of the novel. 

This novel is a non-linear tome about the Hippie, revolutionary, literary life of a group of aspiring poets. It almost feels like a dream, the journey to find Cesárea Tinajero, the evil Alberto, the strange Quixote poets, Lima and Belano, the death, the constant search for romance, words, and one’s own self.

I can’t even review this novel properly, the story doesn’t flow straight, it’s almost like a collection of short stories that are somehow connected. There were times where I almost gave up but ended up going back because I wanted to know about the next character’s perspective. The Savage Detectives isn’t a novel to be read straight through for days, sometimes you got to put it down because it’s quite lengthy and it can weigh you down. However, there is some suspense here and there because all you can think about is “Where is Cesárea Tinajero, the mother of Visceral Realism? Why are Lima and Belano traveling in all of these different countries?” This novel as a required taste, it’s not something that everyone will enjoy. However, I really liked it, I loved it at first, but eventually this book became a bit too lengthy for me. I felt like this book was like On the Road by Jack Kerouac but with a sprinkle of magic, satire, and some dark, bitter, chocolate. 

                                                                     Rating: 7/10

Music #1: Insen by Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto

Artist: Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto
Genre: Ambient, Minimal, Electronic
Released: 2005

1. Aurora 
3. Logic Moon
4. Moon
5. Berlin
6. Iano
7. Avaol

Alva Noto is the stage name of Carsten Nicolai, a German sound artist and visual artist. He uses the sounds of clicks, glitches and other pops, beats, clicks, and fizzes that you hear in glitch, electronic music. 

Ryuichi Sakamoto is an Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Globe winning pianist, he has composed the soundtracks to well known movies such as Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, The Last Emperor, Wuthering Heights, The Sheltering Sky, The Handmaid’s Tale, Little Buddha, and a lot more. He has also acted in a few movies, including Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. He plays piano but he also plays keyboards and seems to be a freaking synthesizer genius. Before he went solo, he was actually a keyboardist and vocalist of Yellow Magic Orchestra. He has done many collaborations, he worked with Alva Noto, David Sylvian (which is probably his most popular collaboration works), Fennesz, Arto Lindsay, Japan, which was the former rock band that David Sylvian was part of, and some other artists. Most of Sakamoto’s collaborations have been with David Sylvian.

Insen is probably my favorite album when it comes to that minimalist, ambient music. It’s very electronic driven, and you can hear Ryuichi improvising his piano. Alva Noto produces all those clips, glitches and beeps. The music is soft on your ears, and Ryuichi’s piano makes this album a pleasant listen. I love to listen to this when I do my homework and when I read. It kind of tickles your ears actually. “Berlin” is my favorite track on this. So yeah, I like this, very nice on the ears, it intrigues my ears, which is funny because I’ve heard some glitch music that makes you feel like having your ear drums split open.

Music and Reading Introduction

I know that this blog is suppose to be mainly for books, but I feel like writing about music again. However, I will only review a certain type of music, maybe something in the ambient genre. Although, Ambient music isn’t a easy thing to review, so the posts won’t be really reviews, maybe only recommendations.  So all I’m trying to say is that I will start a series of posts about a album here and there, I will give background info on the musician, some info about the album, and describe the sound a little. Music is very important to me, especially the minimalistic or minimalist, ambient kind. I listen to this stuff when I do homework, write, and to immerse myself in my reading when there’s too much noise or distractions, or maybe the book is just getting a little dry. Coincidentally,  I just happen to be doing homework right now, and I should be getting back to it. You will see one of those music posts soon, and maybe a review of The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño at some point this week.

Book Haul #2

Yes, this is another book haul. There was a sale so I had to get some stuff. I’ve got 7 books that will arrive in the mail at some point.

1. Nanjing Requiem by Ha Jin 

Pages: 303
Genre: Historical Fiction, Chinese Literature
Format: Hardcover

I’ve always wanted to read a novel by Ha Jin. I’ve heard good things about him but I also heard that his writing style is too simplistic and lacks character. However, I read a sample of the e-book and I found it to be very interesting, and his writing style didn’t bother me at all. I guess he’s an acquired taste.

2. A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama

Pages: 288
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover

I found this many months ago in Costco. I ran into it on Bookcloseouts, now known as Bookoutlet. It’s suppose to be a short read and takes place during a time when the Cultural Revolution had begun.

3. The Third Reich: A Novel by Roberto Bolaño 

Pages: 288
Genre: Historical Fiction, Spanish Literature
Format: Hardcover

I am reading The Savage Detectives by him and I’m really enjoying it. I’m looking forward to 2666.

4. Love Is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Pages: 176
Genre: Romance, Realistic Fiction, LGBT
Format: Hardcover

I’ve never really read any LGBT literature because I’ve never really heard of a lot of books that cover that area. I’ve heard tons of goods things about David Levithan, I had read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, a collaboration between him and John Green, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve also heard bad things about him and read reviews on Goodreads that claimed that David was transphobic. Unfortunately there are authors out there who have views that most people don’t agree with, but it happens, you can’t change them. I don’t agree with homphobia or transphobia or any type of hate or prejudice, but sometimes you really can’t change people’s views. 

5. Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid

Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Crime Fiction
Format: Softcover (Paperback)

I’ve heard about his hit novel How to Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia and for some reason that novel is either out of stock or too expensive for me. So I found out about Moth Smoke, read a sample of it on my Kindle, and found it pretty interesting.

6. The Republic of Wine by Mo Yan

Pages: 384
Genre: Magical Realism, Surrealism, Chinese Literature
Format: Softcover (Paperback)

Mo Yan is one of those authors who write fiction novels that contain lots of the issues of modern China’s society, but he puts a little twist on it. He is very famous and most of his work seems to be translated by Howard Blatt. His novels also tend to be satirical. The cover is quite a beauty.

7. Shifu, You’ll Do Anything For a Laugh

Pages: 216
Genre: Short Stories, Surrealism, Satire, Chinese Literature
Format: Paperback

It’s a collection of Mo Yan’s short stories. Apparently it’s suppose to be funny despite the morbid looking book cover. 

Book Review: Buddha Volume #1: Kapilavatsu by Osamu Tezuka


Pages: 400
Genre: Manga (Graphic novel), Religion (Buddhism), Historical, Supernatural
Format: Hardcover

Buddha is the 8 volume series based on the life of Siddhartha Gautama. The first volume, Kapilavastu, is the beginning of this whole epic journey. I found this book in my college library and I had to check it out, because it was Osamu Tezuka. If you don’t know who that is, Osamu Tezuka was the creator of the famous Astro Boy, he is considered till this day, the ‘Father of Manga.”. He was heavily influenced by Walt Disney and you can totally see it in the artwork, especially the humorous facial expressions. Osamu was also known for Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack. Some of his other works are MW, Metropolis, Apollo’s Song, and Message to Hitler. Some of his works consist of social issues, detectives, scientists, robots, overly ambitious characters, and sociopaths or psychopaths. 

So Buddha wasn’t really what I expected, it started off with an old monk talking about  how a bunny sacrificed itself for him to survive even though he didn’t want to kill the bunny. So this monk, Saint Asita, learns that animals and humans should always respect each other because they will always help each other in the end. So if you kill an animal, you have committed a sin, because animals have souls just like humans. Then there are two main characters, a mother and a son, who are the lowest in the caste system, they are slaves and struggle to live a decent life. Then there’s another main character who has the ability to control the minds of other animals and walks around in their bodies. He is a little boy and is very intelligent for his age. He loses his family and joins the two slaves. The son wishes to be rich and powerful, and ends up achieving it when he rescues a general from death. Then the Buddha is born, the son realizes how selfish and greedy he was when his mother is sentenced to death. If you understand the history of India and Buddhism, you will understand everything.

Buddha is a more than just a biography about Siddhartha, it’s a fantasy adventure through different perspectives. It contains humor, and it’s pretty a darn good adventure, I wish I can read all of the volumes, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. It’s a beautiful story that anybody can enjoy. I really enjoyed the artwork, it’s cute, the characters looked funny when they were suppose to, the expressions were human, and the nature was drawn in great detail and beauty. The artwork was nice and quirky. It’s a fairly enjoyable read if you like fantasy.

                                                         Rating: 8/10

Book Review: Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo


Pages: 167
Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance, Chinese Literature, Film 
Format: Hardcover

When I got this novel in the mail, I wanted to read it the minute I saw it. It’s has a cute book cover that fits the theme of the novel well, a country girl moving to the city, growing up, and fighting to live in Beijing, a hustling, bustling city of people looking for work, money, fame, and a life outside of the country. 

What I loved the most about this book was the characters, Fenfang is wise girl who is ahead of her time, a strong, independent girl who just wants to live a modern life and dreams of being an actress. When she finally sees the world, it’s cruelty, it’s coldness, she loses confidence and travels around China, but doesn’t stop chasing her dream. Huizi, her best friend suggested to write screenplays, due to his suggestion, she develops a passion for writing. I love how she is strong but yet sensitive,she has feelings and often reminiscences and regrets her past mistakes. She misses her angry boyfriend Xiaolin, who is loving at first but has extreme fits of anger due to his feeling of entrapment in his lifestyle as a film extra. Ben, a American who she also develops feelings for represents her connection with people outside of China, at first she is close to him but starts to feel distanced and coldness, especially after he leaves China. Huizi is the best friend who is also the best adviser and is sort of a guardian angel for Fenfang since he watches over her, hopes she succeeds, and wishes her well. Her parents are sort of a representation of her country home, which is very old fashioned, trapped in the past, even after the invasion of factories and supermarkets. 

The writing in this book is simple, but also very fun since Fenfang is the narrator and she uses a lot of Beijing slang words and curses here and there. She can be pretty blunt and doesn’t hide behind the bushes. There’s also plenty of references to popular western movies and novels by authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. She is the voice of modern China, a country that is quickly changing, Fenfang is the modern Chinese. 

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth is a very sweet, humorous, heartfelt novel. I enjoyed every word of it.

                                                                      Rating: 10/10