Friday Reads #9

Hey, I have finals, so there won’t be many books being finished and reviewed until Winter vacation. So I have been reading very slowly lately, hopefully I will speed up soon.

1. Your Republic is Calling You by Young-Ha Kim

Pages: 326
Genre: Mystery, Korean Literature
Format: Paperback

2. Women Float by Maureen Foley
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Pages: 160
Genre: Contemporary
Format: E-book

Book Haul #3

So here is my rare book haul, these are books that have been purchased since college started. Most of them, except maybe three of them, were bought from Bookoutlet.

1. White Noise by Don DeLillo

Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary Classics
Format: Paperback

My college bookstore sells tons of books and occassionaly have sales of their books so people can pick them up for classes or for their own curiosity. Don DeLillo is one of those authors that I’ve seen his books everywhere, but never read any of them.

2. Sunshine by Nikki Rae
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Pages: 330
Genre: YA or NA, Paranormal, Romance
Format: Kindle

This author came to the college that I attend for an author event. I bought the book and read a few chapters and enjoyed them. The characters are more unique and more lively than most paranormal romance. I never finished it though because I’m not a frequent Kindle reader and kind of forgot about it. Although I would like to get back to it at some point.

4. My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
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Pages: 417
Genre: Historical Fiction, Turkish Literature
Format: Paperback (Softcover)
Here is another college book store novel. Another author that I knew his name but never read his work.

4. Your Republic Is Calling You by Young-Ha Kim

Pages: 326
Genre: Mystery, Korean Literature
Format: Paperback

Here is yet another author I know about and I never got any of his books until now. I am still reading it and lately I have been reading quite slowly, so a review of this will be coming really late. It was also on sale on Amazon.

5. ‘Make Good Art’ Speech by Neil Gaiman
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Pages: 40
Genre: Speech
Format: Hardcover

This is actually not for me, it’s for Christmas, it’s for a wonderful, artsy, cousin.

6. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Pages: 283
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance
Format: Hardcover

I wanted to read another Neil Gaiman book and that’s all I’m going to say about this one.

7. The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw

Pages: 362
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback (Softcover)

I’m not sure how I found out about Tash Aw, but yeah, I wanted to read his stuff too.

8. Woes of the True Policeman by Roberto Bolaño 

Pages: 256
Genre: Mystery, Spanish Literature
Format: Hardcover

I’m just reading all of his books now. 

9. The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
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Pages: 358
Genre: Horror, Science Fiction
Format: Paperback

I’ve heard mixed reviews on this book, mostly bad ones, but I really want to read this. I read a sample on my Kindle and it’s not too bad, it’s quite suspenseful and creepy. 

10. Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
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Pages: 310
Genre: Science Fiction, Paranormal, African American Literature
Format: Softcover

I have read Octavia E.Butler’s novel, Parable of the Sower. I liked it, but it wasn’t something I would consider the best, but it was original and thought provoking. You know something has impacted you when it’s completely burned in your mind. 

11. This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park

Pages: 310
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: Hardcover

I always love to read historical fiction, I feel like most of the books I read, especially when I was younger, is either historical fiction, literary, or contemporary.

12. All Men are Liars by Alberto Manguel 
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Pages: 224
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: Softcover

I’m interested in this more because of the title and the book cover, it has a very menacing look. 

13. Life and Death are Wearing Me Out by Mo Yan
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Pages: 552
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism,Chinese Literature

I really enjoyed Mo Yan’s short stories, the cover on this one is quite a beauty. 

Book Review: On Beauty by Zadie Smith

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Pages: 446
Genre: Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover

Here is another library book that took me forever to read and I was ready to throw back into the library, but I stuck with it and ended up enjoying it. That was a horrible run-on sentence. When I read books, I try to review as soon as possible when it’s still fresh in my mind but sometimes reviews are hard to write, I never follow a traditional formula of how a review is written. I only write what is on my mind. So this review will be short and different from most of my other ones. Not that my reviews were long to begin with. I’m actually really freaking tired right now, at the very moment of writing this post. Please excuse any typos. 

On Beauty is a family drama where culture, class, and intellectualism seems to cause strife between everybody. 

1. Being an intellectual does not mean you do not participate in dirty business such as cheating on your partners, stealing artwork, and being promiscuous. 

2. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are middle class, people will always do ‘low class’ actions.

3. On Beauty consists of two families, the Belseys and the Kipps. The main characters of the 5 Belseys, Howard, Kiki, Zora, Jerome, and Levi. 

4. Each character has their own unique personalty and flaws. All of the flaws include being stubborn, falling for a beautiful ‘cover’ and refusing to see the other side.

Howard and Kiki: Howard hates everything that is loved by anybody, he hates Rembrandt, He hates most things that are beautiful except women. His admiration of women’s beauty causes the downfall of his marriage. His inability to see what is truly beautiful in life tears his whole family apart. He falls in love with Kiki for her beauty, when the love wears away, he questions why he loved Kiki in the first place. Howard and Kiki are complete opposites, intellectually, they almost share nothing in common and Kiki felt that she was disconnected from her culture and her whole way of life when Howard had become the beauty hating person he became.

Zora: The daughter of the Belseys shares a lot in common with her father. She is an intellectual when it comes to literature and poetry.She also shares the self centered personality her father has, she also tends to distance herself from her family. She is very strong willed, stubborn, and outspoken, her hard headness causes her downfall in the end, when Carl, her love interest shows his real colors.

Jerome: He is the sensitive, introverted, and lovesick intellectual. He fell in love with Victoria, the beautiful and promiscuous daughter of the Kipps. She breaks his heart and he kind of disappears for most of the novel.

Levi: Is the youngest and kind of an outcast. He is very passionate about Hip-Hop music, he doesn’t really value education or any form of intellectualism other than music. He has a very free spirited personality and longs to live in a world where you can do whatever you please. He seems to have a fantastical image of ‘living in the hood’

These characters are constantly clashing with the Kipps who are intelligent and middle class. Kipp is religious and very conservative while the Belseys are atheist and liberal. They soon start to intermingle with each other, Kiki becomes friends with Carlene, the wife of Mr. Kipp, Jerome was in love with Victoria, and everything goes down hill from there.

Everything that I listed above is pretty much the basis of the book, the first few layers. It’s a very dramatic type of novel, like a TV show. The main lesson is that money and knowledge can never cover up your bad deeds and having class, education, or money will never justify anything. People will always clash unless somebody opens up their mind and heart.

Zadie Smith has a very beautiful writing style, very descriptive and lively. Her style seems to be a modern Charles Dickens due to her vivid description. She also seems to write a character driven story, where it is a study of the character and the reader watches how the characters grow and develop. On Beauty is a pretty interesting novel, thought provoking and entertaining. I’m actually quite excited to read some of her other works. 

                                                                          Rating: 4/5



Goodreads and Their Book Challenges

Every year, readers make a challenge on Goodreads where they create a challenge that requires them to read a certain amount of books per year. Most people choose the goal of 50 or 100. I am an oddball who chose 45 as my number and guess what? I completed that goal. I don’t think the challenge is extremely important but it’s pretty cool to know how many books a person could read in a whole year. Although, I read a lot of e-books this year, isn’t that a little bit like cheating?

Book Review: Four Sparks Fall by T.A. Noonan

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Pages: 128
Genre: Coming of Age, YA, Novella
Format: E-book

Here’s another CClap publishing e-book, another one that I have really enjoyed so far. Actually I think I like this one more than the one by Ben Tanzer. It is a novella, a super emotional and beautiful novella. Novellas should be published more often, I’m not sure what made publishers think that novellas aren’t important and wonderful to read like novels. I just said novellas way too many times in this post. 

The plot is pretty much a coming of age story, the story of a pair of twins who can occasioanlly  hear a fragment of each others thoughts since they are identical. Susanna is the twin who was born with a frail and sickly body and her sister, May, is healthy and seems to be more popular and charismatic than Susanna. They are both extremely intelligent, and May is an aspiring writer and a lover of manga and books. Susanna has always felt inferior compared to her sister and steals her diary to destroy her sisters words. Her revenge turns into way of learning everything about her sister, her sisters thoughts had helped her understand her better and walk in her shoes. Instead of revenge, she learns more about her sister and finds that May is actually just as insecure as her. Susanna grows up and matures by reading her sister’s thoughts, she protects her from trouble and realizes that her sister had always loved her despite their differences.

I love Four Sparks Fall because it is so touching and real, funny and depressing. There are few coming of age novels that don’t include a love triangle with cardboard characters or fantasy adventures, not that fantasy is bad or anything. Sure, twins don’t hear each others thoughts in real life, but I don’t know, I really loved this book, it was just so raw and sad, insert any generic, positive adjective. 

                                                                   Rating: 5/5

November Wrap Up

Currently Reading: Finishing off
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
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Pages: 446
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
Format: Hardcover

I have 20 pages left of this novel. At first it was really hard for me to get into, but it was actually quite enjoyable and I hope to read more from this author.

Read and Reviewed This Month:
After I finished Jane Casey’s The Burning, I kind of fell into a book funk or slump, I started off the month with reading The Third Reich by Roberto Bolaño, and for some reason the book wasn’t too engaging for me. I started reading books on my Ipad, using the Kindle App, for some reason I find it better to read on the Ipad. So this month will consist of mostly e-books, short story collections, and two graphic novels. 

Shifu, You’ll Do Anything For A Laugh by Mo Yan
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Pages: 189
Genre: Short Stories, Satire, Magical Realism
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5

A really enjoyable short story collection, an amusing read.  I have another Mo Yan novel, so I guess that will be read soon. I should probably watch the Zhang Yimou movie too. 

Murmurs: Gathered Stories Vol. One by Caleb J. Ross
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Pages: 73
Genre: Short Stories, E-book
Format: E-book
Rating: 4/5

Another short story collection, very disturbing and dark. It was very unique though, I watched Caleb on Youtube and look forward to reading more from him.

The Cage by Martin Vaughn-James (Advanced Readers Copy)
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Pages:192
Genre: Surrealism, Graphic novel 
Format: E-book (Advanced Readers Copy)
Rating: 3/5

A really quirky and strange graphic novel. It’s very odd and confusing at first, but you soon understand and it’s kind of haunting.

Repetition Patterns by Ben Tanzer
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Pages: 40
Genre: Short Stories, E-book
Format: E-book
Rating: 3/5

A collection of short stories about suburbia, growing up, and depression. A very interesting and unique writing style, that contains a dark humor and a delicate narration. I found out about this author while looking for online literary magazines. This book was published by CClap Publishing, a independent publisher that publishes novellas and short story collections, they have a lot of interesting books on there. You can buy it in physical or electronic form. 

Deadman Wonderland by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou (Advanced Readers Copy)

Pages: 216
Genre: Graphic Novels (Manga), Science Fiction, Mystery
Format: E-book (Advanced Readers Copy)
Rating: 4/5

I heard that Tokyopop was shut down a while ago. This copy of Deadman Wonderland was published by Vizmedia. I had already seen  a few episodes of the anime so the first volume was a refresher for me. However, it is pretty enjoyable and the plot is pretty engaging. It is an action filled, somewhat brutal, story of survival in a world that seems to lack humility. 

Set Aside:

Leaving the Sea: Stories by Ben Marcus (Advanced Readers Copy)
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The stories in this are kind of hard to get into. I set this one aside because it’s not interesting for me at this point

The Third Reich by Roberto Bolaño 
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During the time of reading this novel, I was kind of in a reading slump but I will finish it sometime this month. 

Favorites of this Month:

Shifu, You’ll Do Anything for a Laugh by Mo Yan

Repetition Patterns by Ben Tanzer