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TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – Halfway there

TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – Halfway there

TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – Halfway thereMarina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on September 26th, 2013 (first published 1999)
Genres: Young Adult, Historical fiction
Pages: 299
ISBN: 9780297856474
Goodreads
four-stars

In May 1980, fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts...

Against all odds, I’m halfway there with the TBR Pile Challenge! I’ve read 6 books out of 12, and I’m almost starting to believe I will make it this year haha.

Book number five for the challenge was Zafón’s Marina. This was actually the last of Zafón’s translated books that I hadn’t read yet, so in a way I feel a bit sad about having finished it. It’s not my favourite of his YA books (that honour still goes to the brilliantly creepy The Midnight Palace) but really enjoyed it, and on the whole it was a steady 4 stars for me… until the ending, which was a killer 5 stars. Very, very good.

If you enjoy Zafón’s writing and especially his descriptions of Barcelona, you have to read this. This book (like the others) has pushed Barcelona higher up my travel wishlist.

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TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – Halfway thereBattle Royale by Koushun Takami
Published by Gollancz on May 2007 (first published 1999)
Genres: Dystopian, Science fiction
Pages: 617
ISBN: 9780575080492
Goodreads
three-stars

A class of 42 junior high school students are taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided with weapons and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing.


Book six was Battle Royale, a book that has also been on my TBR for a really long time. Well, I finally read it and I have strong feelings about it. Before I start this review: Battle Royale the movie is one of my favourite movies ever. But I am also one of the first to say ‘the book is better than the movie!’

Well, I was looking forward to reading this book for a long time and I hate disappointments.

/start rant
The English translation of this book is cringeworthy. Easily one of the worst professionally published translations I’ve ever read. I am a Japanese major and had you asked us to translate this book during our second university year, this is what you would’ve gotten to a T. Which is not a good thing. Things that work in Japanese do not necessarily work in English. The translation is too literal, which makes it ugly and downright childish at many points.

The translation nearly ruined the book for me, but I kept reading. The concept is awesome and I love the structure of the book. We follow the game through the
2015 TBR Pile Challengeeyes of different characters, some with more background story than others. Some of the personal stories are a bit meh, but on the whole the book is awesome. Would have given it more than three stars (probably even five) if it weren’t for the awful translation.

So… want to read a book with a good story? Read this. Want to read a well written book? … Curse the translator and watch the movie.

TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – Books Three and Four

TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – Books Three and Four

TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – Books Three and FourAsleep by Banana Yoshimoto
Published by Faber & Faber on 2001 (first published 1989)
Genres: Japanese literature, Contemporary
Pages: 177
ISBN: 9780571205370
Goodreads
three-stars

Asleep tells the stories of three women, all bewitched into a spiritual sleep. One, mourning a lost love, finds herself sleepwalking at night. Another, embarking on a relationship with a man whose wife is in a coma, finds herself unable to stay awake. The third finds her sleep haunted.

I am slightly behind with the TBR Pile Challenge but I finished book number four last night and so it’s time for another two mini reviews! This means I have now finished four out of twelve books for this year, and I fully intend to continue with this challenge.

Book number three was Asleep and I must say I’m rather disappointed with this book. The thing is, I think I’m falling out of love with Banana Yoshimoto’s work. I absolutely adored two of her works, Kitchen and Hardboiled & Hard Luck, and I liked N.P. as well. But The Lake and Asleep were both disappointments. For some reason these two books did not touch me at all. They were tiresome and I was glad when I finished them. But I am not ready to give up on Yoshimoto yet. I have three books of her left to read, so we’ll see how I feel about those…

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TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – Books Three and FourThe Angel's Cut by Elizabeth Knox
Series: Vintner's Luck #2
Published by Vintage on June 11th 2009 (first published January 2009)
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT+
Pages: 464
ISBN: 9780099540045
Goodreads
five-stars

It's Hollywood, 1929. While Conrad Cole is working late on elaborate plans for his aeroplanes and his films, a mysterious stranger appears at his door. Xas soon finds himself caught up in the glamorous and treacherous world of movie-making and entangled with both Cole and a young woman who owes her life to the eccentric director. Both of them are drawn to Xas without knowing his secret - that under his shirt he hides the remnants of great snowy wings that set him apart from humankind, and that he is destined to wander the earth forever, always hearing the beating of feathers behind him, threatening him that his dark brother has found him again.

This is the sequel to The Vintner’s Luck, which, as you may or may not know, is one of my all time favourite books. It took me 1.5 years to read The Angel’s Cut simply because I loved it’s predecessor so much I was afraid this sequel was going to be a disappointment.
I admit, it wasn’t quite as good as the first in the series, but I still think it was beautiful (and pretty darn emotional at times). The ending of the book was a surprise but it worked, and it worked well.

Anyway, if you haven’t read it yet, definitely do pick up The Vintner’s Luck, but I think you can get away not having read the sequel…

2015 TBR Pile Challenge

TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – two down…

TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – two down…

TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – two down…Masks by Fumiko Enchi
Published by Vintage on September 12th 1983 (first published 1958)
Genres: Japanese literature, Classic
Pages: 141
ISBN: 9780394722184
Goodreads
three-stars

A curiously elegant and scandalous tale of sexual deception and revenge. Ibuki loves widow Yasuko who is young, charming and sparkling with intelligence as well as beauty. His friend, Mikame, desires her too but that is not the difficulty. What troubles Ibuki is the curious bond that has grown between Yasuko and her mother-in-law, Mieko, a handsome, cultivated yet jealous woman in her fifties, who is manipulating the relationship between Yasuko and the two men who love her.

I did not forget about this challenge this year! The previous years were a bit of a disaster, but this time I am determined to make it. Looking at my list I get a bit nervous though.

Anyway, I can happily announce I am two books down (and have ten more to go)! I don’t think I can bring myself to write full reviews, but here are mini reviews for the two books I finished.

Masks was the first book off my TBR pile challenge that I finished. It was actually one of the alternates, and I ended up reading it for January in Japan. I was looking forward to reading something by Enchi, she was one of the classic authors I hadn’t read anything by yet.

Frankly… I read Masks back in January, and to my shame I don’t even remember how it ended. I can’t say it left a very deep impression on me. The characters didn’t do much for me, as did the storyline. What I did enjoy a lot were the nôh aspects, although I know close to nothing about nôh. And even better, the references to The Tale of Genji – that I thankfully do know a bit more about (although those who have been with me longer know I errr strongly dislike that story haha).

So while this book may not have ended up among my favourites, I am glad to have had the experience of reading it.

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TBR Pile Challenge 2015 – two down…The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Published by Faber & Faber on 2005 (first published 1963)
Genres: Classic
Pages: 234
ISBN: 9780571226160
Goodreads
four-stars

Esther Greenwood is at college and is fighting two battles, one against her own desire for perfection in all things - grades, boyfriend, looks, career - and the other against remorseless mental illness. As her depression deepens she finds herself encased in it, bell-jarred away from the rest of the world. This is the story of her journey back into reality.

While reading this I went through a few stages. The first few pages, I couldn’t help but feel it was one of “those books”. I am sure you know what kind of books I am talking about – the youngster growing up, stepping out into the world, a few doubts here and there, with a touch of misplaced glamour. Except this time not with a young man but a young woman as a main character, so that was refreshing at least.

I completely changed my opinion a little bit onwards, as we got to know more about Esther and her life in New York. I was really beginning to enjoy the book. And then – although I saw it coming it still felt quite sudden – mental illness prevailed. It was almost shocking how relevant the book is even in this day and age (minus certain old-fashioned treatments).

I am glad I read this book. It really impressed me. Of course it is (sadly) no surprise Plath was able to write about it so well…

2015 TBR Pile Challenge

TBR Pile Challenge 2015

TBR Pile Challenge 2015

I ‘participated’ in Roof Beam Reader‘s TBR Pile Challenge years ago… and failed hopelessly. Mostly because me and TBR-piles – as much as I love them – just don’t go together.

Still, I am not giving up.

The books on my list this time are all books that have been on my TBR for a relatively long time, and that I really want to read… but keep postponing for whatever reason.

2015 TBR Pile Challenge

TBR Pile Challenge 2015 list

  1. Affinity by Sarah Waters
  2. The Angel’s Cut (Vinter’s Luck, #2) by Elizabeth Knox
  3. Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto
  4. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
  5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  6. Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
  7. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
  8. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
  9. Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  10. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  11. De Ontdekking van de Hemel (The Discovery of Heaven) by Harry Mulisch
  12. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Alternates:

  1. Botchan by Natsume Sōseki
  2. Masks by Fumiko Enchi
Hello 2015! Ready for some challenges..!

Hello 2015! Ready for some challenges..!

2014 is well and truly over now. Hello 2015! Yes, I’m a few days late with this but I had a rubbish last week of the year, being sick ;(

Anyway, with a new year come new challenges! Or… new? I am actually sticking with all my old challenges, it seems… If you have recommendations for more challenges, let me know 😀

Dystopia Reading Challenge 2015

Dystopia Reading Challenge 2015
In 2014 I wasn’t an active participant but still ended up reading 7 dystopian novels. This year I will aim for Level 1: Recruit (1 to 6 books).

January in Japan

January in Japan
My third year participating in this challenge 🙂 I will read nothing but Japanese literature in January!

LGBT Challenge 2015

LGBT+ Challenge
Aww yeah I’m so excited Cayce decided to make this an all-genre challenge for 2015! I am going to aim for OMNIVOROUS BOOKGLUTTON level, in other words, read 10+ LGBT books from any genre. In 2014 I read 25 LGBT+ books, so I’m not too worried…

2015 TBR Pile Challenge

TBR pile challenge
I actually participated in this challenge before (I don’t even remember when), but failed hopelessly. I am now working on a new list and am planning to succeed this time around! The idea is to read 12 books that have been on your TBR for at least a year. My list will be up soon 🙂

Graphic Novel Challenge
This is my own idea and not yet an official challenge (I discussed this on Twitter before, but haven’t had time to create this into an actual thing). I have quite a few graphic novels on my shelves but I just don’t get around to them. This year I want to see if I can read at least 4 graphic novels.