October Wrap Up

Currently Reading:

The Third Reich by Roberto Bolaño
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Pages: 277
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Spanish Literature
Format: Hardcover

It’s a Bolaño novel and I’m enjoying it. This time the main characters are German and a old board game of the Rise and Decline of the Third Reich is involved. The cover is quite a beauty.

1Q84 (Book 2) by Haruki Murakami

Pages: 925 (Book 2 Pages: 313 – 591)
Genre: Science Fiction?, Magical Realism/ Surrealism
Format: Hardcover (It’s so big I can’t carry it everywhere)

I’m slowly plowing through this book, I like it but not as much as his other works. However, my opinion might change if I keep reading. 

Read and Reviewed This Month:

The Burning by Jane Casey
10769683

Pages: 351
Genre: Mystery, Crime Thriller
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3/5

I enjoyed it but felt that it was a little too slow. It wasn’t what I expected, the title and the reviews made the novel came off as a psychological thriller but it was really a who-dun-it with a psychologically evil antagonist. 

Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid
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Pages: 270
Genres: Mystery, Crime Thriller, Contemporary, Literature of Pakistan
Format: Paperback (Softcover)
Rating 5/5

A really bleak but enjoyable read. Hamid’s writing is beautiful and delicate despite the aggressive, violent, claustrophobic, and envious atmosphere to the book where the rich rule everything. It’s a novel that takes place in a society where the poor must fight for their lives and thirst for the high status while the rich can get away with anything. A novel of obsessive love, jealousy, drugs, corruption, and the hunger for money and status. 

Distant Star by Roberto Bolaño

Pages: 149
Genre: Contemporary, Spanish Literature
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5

You guys should know by now that I love this guy’s work. His words are dreamy and this specific novel has a rather creepy aura to it thanks to the crazy Carlos Wieder. 

Waiting by Ha Jin
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Pages: 308
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3/5

My feelings were kind of mixed on this one. I find Ha Jin’s writing to be pleasantly simple but this novel was pretty bittersweet to me, not exactly a romance like everyone thinks it is.

Intended to Read:

Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
14891886

Pages: 586
Genre: Nonfiction, Science
Format: Paperback (a really fat one)

I took this out of the library because I think Alan Turing is pretty awesome but it was too big and by the time I had the chance to read it, I wasn’t in the mood to read nonfiction.


Already Read but Didn’t Review Until Now:

1Q84 (Book One) by Haruki Murakami
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Favorites of the Month:

Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid
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Distant Star by Roberto Bolaño

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Book Review: The Burning by Jane Casey

10769683

Pages: 351
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction or Crime Thriller
Format: Hardcover

One day, I went to a supermarket and there was a table filled with books that costed 1.99$ each. I looked through the pile and didn’t find anything interesting, but then The Burning appeared and it was a mystery, a crime thriller, something that I didn’t read often. So here’s my review of it.



A lot of people made this novel sound as if it were a psychological thriller, a total mind bender. It really isn’t, more of a who-dun-it, and that left me a little disappointed. I thought this was suppose to be utterly frightening, the type of scary book that makes you read faster than usual, hungering for more. So as soon as I figured that it wasn’t exactly a crazy thriller, I lowered my expectations.

This whole entire novel mostly consisted of Maeve Kerrigan, the female police officer/detective and a bunch of guys and her boss, Rob, Sam, and Godley. Kerrigan is smart and strong, likable, if you’re into the sarcastic, strong headed woman who runs after what she wants and doesn’t let anyone get in the way, including romance. I like that the protagonist wasn’t a mushy female, it was a breathe of fresh air for me, however, she does have some empathy, she’s not too cynical and Rob becomes her love interest. She’s just a woman who loves her job and doesn’t let the fact that she’s female get in the way of it. 

So what happens is that the there is a case called The Burning Man going on, a man is beating woman and burning their bodies, leaving them in the open space. After a short chapter of a woman stabbing a man out of fear, thinking he was the Burning Man, the novel spins out. 

One of the last cases of the Burning Man is a woman named Rebecca Haworth, and after meeting Rebecca’s friend Louise North, her ex-boyfriend Gil Maddick, and all of her friends and family members, I already started to aim my attention at Gil Maddick, thinking that he was the killer. However, Louise is a little too cold and suspicious, so right away you get the inkling that she had done it. However, Louise is a crazy lady, she’s super good at lying and is able to peel off any evidence of guilt and trick the reader into thinking that she is innocent. The novel is written in two perspectives, Maeve Kerrigan’s and Louise North’s. Louise North’s chapters were written in large text so they tend to fly by, while Maeve’s chapters go on forever. My only problem with this novel was that it went a little bit slower than it should.

I don’t want to spoil the novel, but it gets pretty obvious since the comments on the book cover t indicate ‘twists’ which I assume, means plot twists. So all I can say is that Louise comes off innocent, she’s unlikable at first but then you feel sympathy for her because she had a pretty dysfunctional life and her and her friend Rebecca had both dealt with horrible men. She becomes unlikable when you realize that her motive is selfish, sick, and unforgivable  She blames everyone but herself. Gil Maddick and Adam Rowley are both classic examples of ‘bad people’ but murdering them isn’t exactly the best way to rid of their evil. 

I kind of got tired of The Burning after 200 pages, it’s likable but it becomes a bit of a chore to read since it mostly consists of interviews of suspects. It seems like I still haven’t found a favorite crime thriller, mystery other than Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem. 

                                                             Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Friday Reads #4

1. The Burning by Jane Casey
10769683

Pages: 351
Genre: Mystery, Crime Thriller
Format: Hardcover

It’s still pretty interesting but I kind of wish it would go a little faster. It’s a bit of a page turner, and it bothers me because I am excited to know who the killer is and every time something new comes up, I change my mind who the killer is. It keeps twisting, I can’t seem to figure out who is the killer, so I gotta keep reading. That’s a good crime thriller or mystery, if the killer is quite a predictable one, then the author probably didn’t work the writing out good. So it’s good, just a little slow.

2. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
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Pages: 925 (Book 2 Pages: 313- 591)
Genre: Science Fiction?, Magical Realism/Surrealism, 
Format: Hardback

After almost a year after finishing Book one, I’ve decided to continue reading Book 2. It’s going by pretty slowly, but I hope to finish 1Q84 before the school year ends, which is plenty of time right?

3.Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
14891886

Pages: 586
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Computer Science 
Format: Paperback (A massive paperback, like a mass market paperback with tiny text)

If found this in the library and I think Alan Turing is a pretty fascinating guy, so of course I checked this out. It’s a pretty hefty book, I’m not sure if I will finish it.

Book Review: 1Q84 Book One by Haruki Murakami

Pages: 925 (Book One, Pages: 1-309)
Genre: Science Fiction?, Surrealism, Dystopia, Japanese Literature
Format: Hardcover

Here is yet another Murakami review, however, this is something I have not recently  read. I got 1Q84 two years ago for Christmas. At that time, I had already read three or more Murakami novels and wanted to read more. I heard about 1Q84 and wanted it pretty badly, since it was new at that time. Everyone was raving about it on the internet and someone was kind enough to bring out a sample of the first chapter. I devoured that sample and was super excited for this, it was so suspenseful, so mysterious and dreamy, it reminded me a lot of the first chapter of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World and Kafka on the Shore


1Q84 became a best seller and when I finally got it, I read the first few chapters. I had mixed feelings about it. Before I even get into talking about the first book, I would like to have a little rant. I hate the fact that some people who were unfamiliar with Murakami, simply bought this book because it was a best seller, they bought it and it wasn’t their cup of tea. Just because something is on the best seller list, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for your own individual taste. I’m not defending only 1Q84, I’m just talking about best sellers in general. 

1Q84 is quite slow, and if you are not familiar with Murakami, you will automatically be turned off, I’ve read about 3 or 4 of his novels at that time, so I was familiar with his style. The book was written in third person, at first I was confused, I looked through the book and realized that the whole entire novel was written in third person, no first person narrative at all, it was quite unusual for Murakami in my opinion.

 This hefty novel was also a trilogy, in Japan it was published in three separate books. In most parts of Europe, it was published in two parts. In the U.S., it was published as a whole. A year later, the book was republished as a trilogy box set, which pissed me off somewhat because I wanted this so badly, and the box set was freaking beautiful. The one I have is beautiful too, a woman and a man, very nice looking models, front and back, expressionless, with a rather mysterious aura. Inside you will find a black sky with two moons. 

The first few chapters of book one were quite delicious, Aomame’s perspective was pretty awesome because she was a super confident spy. Most of Murakami’s female characters were mentally broken and odd women who end up being the narrator’s romantic partners, they always seem to have this distant, underdeveloped feeling. However, Aomame’s character is alive. Tengo, the other main character, is pretty much like any other Murakami narrator, except he was a math teacher and seems to have a repeating dream of his dead mother, a memory that seems to make him extremely uncomfortable. So it seems like the mentally broken personality trait has been passed onto a male character this time.

 What I do like about Book one was the details about these characters, the sad details of their childhoods, very bleak, confusing, unhappy childhoods. You know that they are fated to meet and fall in love, because they share something alike. 

So Aomame is a tough assassin who kills off men who do wrong, she becomes friends with a female police officer and hangs out with a dowager that owns a home for battered women. Aomame realizes something off, her and Tengo live in year 1984, but everything seems odd and she calls it 1Q84. I read the first book quite a while ago, so I don’t really remember if that’s right. However, she notices something wrong and a traumatized girl, who is under the care of the dowager, seems to reveal something else odd. She mentions the Little People, the culprit of her mental scar. There’s a religious cult that Aomame seems to know about, since her parents were into a religious cult too and she was raised under it. The dowager believes she was violated by the cult leader, however the girl mentioned the Little People. 

The Little People ties in with Tengo’s perspective as he is reading a manuscript, called Air Chrysalis that mentions them. He happens to be an editor and works with a man named Komatsu who is the one who encouraged him to edit the writer’s work, who is named Fukaeri who was also connected to the same religious cult, it is named Sakigaki and this cult holds their own community. Fukaeri is also dyslexic and a fairly odd girl, a lot of mystery surrounds her, especially after her work is published and she disappears. 

Everything in Tengo and Aomame’s world is connected somehow, the Little People and the manuscript, Aomame, Fukaeri, and the Sakigaki, the odd changes in the world they live in, and the sense of reality folding into something weird.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot because everything will just come out weird since I read it awhile ago. As you can see though, 1Q84 has a pretty crazy plot so far, it’s really interesting and it pulls you in. It’s lengthy and a tad bit slow, so a impatient reader will easily give up. The writing is pretty good, but bland compared to his other works, especially Tengo’s point of view, but since I am a stupid bookworm, I tend to like his slow, bookish, quiet flow.  I also like Aomame’s point of view, but the perverted stuff is a little over the top. I enjoy 1Q84, but this is a meaty novel and I have been on Book 2 for awhile but I kind of set it aside and forgot about it. Today, I had decided to go back to this novel and hope to finish it, but the text is small, so it’s going to be a long journey. 1Q84  Book one is great but not the best. I look forward to reading more of it though, so one day a review of Book 2 will appear on this blog.

                                                          Rating: 3 and half out 5

Book Review: Distant Star by Roberto Bolaño

Pages: 149
Genre: Contemporary, Spanish Literature
Format: Paperback

I want to read tons of  Bolaño novels, I don’t know what it is about this guy, but so far I really enjoy his work. I checked it out of the library, because I was looking for a light read and a  Bolaño novel that I didn’t have yet, I actually wanted to read his poetry, but ended up taking this one. 


Distant Star was kind of confusing for me. Like The Savage Detectives, it doesn’t really have a flowing plot, but at the same time it does have a plot, if that makes sense. Since Distant Star is pretty much a novella, everything moves kind of quickly and the characters don’t really develop much. It was more like a really long short story with chapters, which is pretty much a novella. It starts with the narrator, who is apparently Arturo Belano or Arturo B. from The Savage Detectives, he’s in a writing workshop with a few guys and a pair of twins, the Garmendia Twins, the protagonist who is named Ruiz-Tangle, but changes his name to Carlos Wieder, Fat Marta, and  Bibiano. Most of the novella focuses on the weirdness of Carlos Wieder, he is an autodidact. He apparently wants to revolutionize Chilean poetry, however, he murders people in the process because he’s apparently a sick, crazy dude. He kills off the twins, a couple of other women, and the narrator probably thinks he killed Juan Stein, a mentor. Carlos Wieder is one of those really mysterious guys that disappear for no reason, the narrator becomes obsessed with this weirdo because he truly believes that Carlos has killed off many people for the sake of his crazy art.

 However, nobody in the novel seems to be convinced that Wieder is a psychopath. A lot of politics was thrown into this novel, it takes place during the Pinochet regime, so the narrator ends up in jail in the beginning of the novel, for political reasons, he watches Wieder ‘write’ poetry with the smoke blowing out from his plane, he flies around in the sky, ‘writing’ cloud words in Latin. From the beginning, I knew that Wieder was a wack job, it was revealed not too far from the first few chapters that he murdered the twins in pure cold blood, and her family members, his murders and the corpses were used for his twisted art. It is revealed that he gets into photography, after an air show, writing morbid smoke poetry about death, he shows off his exhibition to a bunch of his fans that seem to be in love with his bizarre art. I consider the photo exhibition part the most disturbing part of the novel, so everyone walks in and observes his photography, only to leave frightened, the narrator reveals that the exhibition contained photos of the dead bodies of all the woman he murdered, beheaded and dismembered, there was even a photo a dismembered finger, and a photo of the dismembered heads of a woman or a pair of women who looked like the Garmendia twins. After that incident, Carlos disappears again. Bibiano and the narrator spend most of the novel searching for Wieder, becoming obsessed with his violent acts and his ‘cold’ art. They all knew he was weirdo, they should’ve killed him, so they could stop his sick art.

I enjoyed Distant Star, but some parts were kind of confusing, especially when the perspectives were changed and the narrator starts talking about other people, like the disappearance of Juan Stein, and some other political related people. This novella was kind of on the creepy side, because Carlos Wieder is a strange, creepy person, actually his last name is kind of close to weirdo, just switch some letters around and add an ‘O’. I think I might’ve missed a few things while reading this novel, because there are some questions left unanswered, but it’s a novella, and thats all the story you’re going to get. 

                                                                      Rating: 3/5 

Friday Reads #3

1. Distant Star by Roberto Bolaño 

Pages: 149
Genre: Contemporary, Spanish Literature, Novella
Format: Paperback 

My school library has a bunch of Roberto Bolaño novels which makes me really happy. I seem to be in love with this words because ever since I finished Thge Savage Detectives, I’be been wanting to read more of his works. I don’t know what it is, but this guy’s words has a dreamlike feel to it. 
2. The Burning by Jane Casey
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Pages: 354
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, British Literature
Format: Hardcover

A used copy I found on a discount table in Shop Right. I don’t read a lot of crime fiction or mysteries. I really enjoy it so far. Obviously a review will come. 

Book Review: Waiting by Ha Jin

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Pages: 308
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Format: Hardcover

I’ve been wanting to read Ha Jin’s works for quite a while. I have Nanjing Requiem and the book looks pretty but the inside contains some dark stuff. So one day I was wondering through the library and finally found the fiction section. Waiting popped up out of nowhere and I immediately picked it up. I read it and it wasn’t as great as I thought it was, it’s not bad but it’s not the best. It’s okay, but it won’t discourage me from reading his other works. 


This novel is more of a character analysis than a romance. Lin Kong is a guy who doesn’t really bring out his emotions and tends to run away from them instead of expressing them. He’s a bookish introvert that was forced to live in a life of conflicting with the new and the old. He ends up marrying a woman through an arranged marriage. He was not attracted to his wife and distances himself from her after she gives birth to her daughter.  He lives as a doctor in a military hospital. Then he meets Manna and develops a crush on her. Due to strict laws or rules, they couldn’t get married.

So after waiting for about 18 years or so, they marry and the married life tires Lin Kong down. So this novel kind of gives me these ideas. The desire for something that is restricted doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing or it makes you desire it more. What is forbidden is usually something that a person wants to commit or something along those lines. I feel like family is also a prominent theme in this novel. He ends up missing Shuyu, his old wife’s, peaceful and kind personality, his old home was a lot more peaceful and painless than his new home. He loves Manna but constantly feels a cloud of pressure especially after finding out her illness. He feels that he has to fill in her loneliness and ends up feeling lonely himself. Lin Kong really didn’t know what he wanted, he ended up appreciating what he previously had despite that he tried to run away from it in the beginning. 

The characters are kind of just there, they are not likable or unlikable. Ha Jin’s writing style is fairly simple and I feel like he’s writes in a way how a parent sits in front of you and reads everything out loud to you while you lay in bed and listen, as if there right now reading the story to me. Even though he writes in English, the writing feels like it was translated from Chinese, I’m not sure why I get that feeling though. I like his reading style, it’s nice and simple, not too fancy. Anyway, I liked this novel but it didn’t really live up to my expectations.

                                                                            Rating: 3/5