[Review] The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

[Review] The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #3
Published by HarperCollins on July 2012 (first published 2011)
Genres: Historical fiction, Mystery
Pages: 279
The verdict: four-stars
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Barcelona, 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city's dark past. His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940's and the dark early days of Franco's dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a journey fraught with jealousy, suspicion, vengeance, and lies, a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love and ultimately transform their lives. [Goodreads]

I was really looking forward to this book ever since I heard of its release date (June 21st, 2012). Sadly, I had some trouble acquiring the actual book (don’t ask) and thus I didn’t start reading until the last day of August. Coincidentally, Mr. Zafón was due to have an interview and a signing session just two days later at the Dutch book event Manuscripta. I didn’t finish the book on time, but I figured I’d combine a review of The Prisoner of Heaven with a short report on Záfon’s presence at Manuscripta.

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[Review] 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

[Review] 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Published by Harvill Secker on October 2011 (first published 2009)
Genres: Japanese literature, Magical realism
Pages: 925
The verdict: four-half-stars
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The year is 1984. The fates of Aomame and Tengo are intertwined.

I first picked up this book in late December 2011. Yes, it nearly took me a year to finish. And often enough I was extremely frustrated with this book. Mostly because this book was a deceivingly slow read. As a friend suggested, even the fastest reader could probably not finish this book very quickly. At the same time, I’ve read far longer books that took me less time and that were more engaging. Plenty of times I had to put 1Q84 down because I just got tired of it.

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The Classics Club challenge

The Classics Club ChallengeI don’t blog here as much on books, or actually their content, as I’d like. It may be time to change that.

I am joining The Classics Club challenge! The challenge is to read at least 50 classics in no more than five years. I decided to join since my to-read pile of classics is pretty gigantic (and truthfully I just really really enjoy making lists). So far I have changed my list multiple times already and I’m still not completely satisfied, but then again the list is completely fluid of course.

I will try to blog about every book I finish reading, although knowing myself it may not be more than a short blurb (I’m a terrible reviewer, sadly). The actually list that I will update, with links to the reviews, can be found here. I am also completely open to more suggestions for my list!

At the same time, I am still challenging myself to read all of Haruki Murakami’s (major, translated) works. An updated list on that can be found here, although I don’t actually write reviews. And I’m thinking of making that much needed list of Japanese literature… That’s a lie, actually, since I already started on it. But recommendations for that are welcome too (please check my Japanese literature GoodReads shelf!) 🙂

My current list: (I will not update this post)

  1. Adams, Richard – Watership Down
  2. Alcott, Louisa May – Little Women
  3. Atwood, Margaret – A Handmaid’s Tale
  4. Austen, Jane – Mansfield Park
  5. Austen, Jane – Northanger Abbey
  6. Austen, Jane – Persuasion
  7. Austen, Jane – Sense and Sensibility
  8. Bradbury, Ray – Fahrenheit 451
  9. Bronte, Charlotte – Jane Eyre
  10. Bronte, Emily – Wuthering Heights
  11. Burgess, Anthony – A Clockwork Orange
  12. Burnett, Frances Hodgson – The Secret Garden
  13. Dickens, Charles – Tale of Two Cities
  14. Dumas, Alexandre – The Three Musketeers
  15. Fitzgerald, F. Scott – Tender is the Night
  16. Forster, E.M. – Room With a View
  17. Golding, William – Lord of the Flies
  18. Grossmith, George – The Diary of a Nobody
  19. Heller, Joseph – Catch-22
  20. Huxley, Aldous – Brave New World
  21. Isherwood, Christopher – Goodbye to Berlin
  22. Ishiguro, Kazuo – Remains of the Day
  23. Kafka, Franz – The Trial
  24. Kesey, Ken – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  25. Lawrence, D.H. – Lady Chatterley’s Lover
  26. Lee, Harper – To Kill a Mockingbird
  27. Leroux, Gaston – The Phantom of Opera
  28. Maurier, Daphne du – Rebecca
  29. Mitchell, Margaret – Gone with the Wind
  30. Montgomery, L.M. – Anne of Green Gables
  31. More, Thomas – Utopia
  32. Nabokov, Vladimir – Lolita
  33. Orwell, George – Animal Farm
  34. Salinger, J.D. – The Catcher in the Rye
  35. Shakespeare, William – Hamlet
  36. Shakespeare, William – Romeo and Juliet
  37. Stoker, Bram – Dracula
  38. Thackeray, William Makepeace – Vanity Fair
  39. Tolkien, J.R.R. – The Lord of the Rings
  40. Victor, Hugo – Les Misérables
  41. Voltaire – Candide
  42. Vonnegut, Kurt – Slaughterhouse Five
  43. Wells, H.G. – The Time Machine
  44. Wilde, Oscar – The Importance of Being Earnest
  45. Woolf, Virginia – A Room of One’s Own
  46. And as I want to read more literature from my own country, I have also picked five Dutch classics for the list:

  47. Abdolah, Kader – Het Huis van de Moskee (The House of the Mosque)
  48. Couperus, Louis – Stille Kracht (Hidden Force)
  49. Frank, Anne – Het Dagboek van Anne Frank (The Diary of Anne Frank)
  50. Hermans, Willem Frederik – De donkere kamer van Damokles (The Darkroom of Damocles)
  51. Mulisch, Harry – De Ontdekking van de Hemel (The Discovery of Heaven)

Geeking out in London

I have been doing some traveling the past few months. In April I went to London with friends. Our main purpose was L’Arc~en~Ciel’s concert, as London was one of the stops on their world tour. But clearly we ended up doing more than that! So here is a bit of a travel report and some geeky tips for geeky travelers.

One place I can never resist visiting when I’m in a big city is the Hard Rock Café. I just can’t resist the food, the atmosphere, looking at all the rock props..! I must admit while I love the London location (staff is friendly and food is tasty!) they were not my favourite. I’ve visited quite a few HRC’s (told ya, can’t resist)… Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Prague, all locations in Japan… and my favourites were probably Fukuoka and Amsterdam. Nonetheless, the HRC London is near Hyde Park so when there’s no queue, do check it out for tasty food!

Then, as Sherlock Holmes fans, we had to visit the museum at 221B Baker Street. It was extremely crowded and perhaps a bit tourist trap-y, but enjoyable enough.

The next stop wasn’t on our list of geeky-things-to-do-in-London (so obviously the list was flawed) but when we saw it nothing could stop us: The Shakespeare Globe Theatre. So interesting! The museum part was incredibly fascinating in itself and during the tour we loved seeing the theatre itself. Sadly the season for plays hadn’t started yet so we couldn’t actually watch a play, but that’s very high up on my list for next time. (As for Shakespeare in general: The British Museum will have a Shakespeare exhibition from July 19-November 25 this year! Go go go!)

Our main reason to be in London was L’Arc~en~Ciel’s concert at Indigo2, as mentioned before. The band was having a collaboration with a Hawaiian burger restaurant: Kua’aina. Ok, not actually very geeky, but I am still tagging them because their burgers are amazing (and I am generally not very much into burgers!). At the restaurant we just so happened to sit next to Doctor Who actor Tommy Campbell, who then suggested to us we should head to the concert hall by… boat. Best idea ever, so we arrived at the concert in style.

My final geeky destination was the Film Museum. I visited the South Bank location, but after returning I found out there’s another location in Covent Garden. Which must be visited next time. Anyway, I managed to spend quite some time at the museum. They had a few interesting exhibitions, such as the “Ray Harryhausen – Myths and Legends” exhibition showing the techniques used, background information etc. If anything, the location itself was also interesting. I managed to get myself lost on the way out…

Of course, theatre geeks must absolutely go see a musical or play in London. If you’re tired of the Phantom of the Opera (but how could you?) there is still plenty to see. I recommend checking out Theatre Monkey’s guide before you go.

Other things you cannot miss:

  • Forbidden Planet, a cult entertainment/sci-fi megastore. Your stop for geeky goods! It is walkable from Picadilly, Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Rd. Also double-check their book section: you can find a lot of signed books!
  • Skoob Books, selling used books. The store itself is quite wonderful, but I can especially recommend checking out their warehouse catalogue! You can ask them to fetch you books which you can check out when you visit. And trust me, they’re really selling some nice editions!
  • The British Library occasionally has extremely interesting exhibitions! I visited their ‘Out of this world’ exhibition on science fiction a year ago and it must have been one of my favourite exhibitions ever. and they had a marvellous exhibition displaying manuscripts after that which I sadly had to miss. Definitely worth to see if there’s an exhibition before you go. (And their store is book lover heaven!)

Bookish links.. part 2

I wasn’t intending to abandon this blog like I did, oops. Anyway, there is never-ending fascinating, funny or unbelievable information out there on the web about books. Here is part 2 of the Bookish links! This time: blogs on Tumblr!

Bookshelf Porn

Porn for book lovers.

When you see it you will understand. If you love books of course.


These are confessions and/or thoughts of a book lover, bibliophile, book addict, reader, lover of literature, nerd…

Better Book Titles

This blog is for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences. I will cut through all the cryptic crap, and give you the meat of the story in one condensed image. Now you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!

And some of them are really very accurate!


Since collecting actual books is somewhat cost-prohibitive, I’ve begun to amass all of the books I would love to have if I had the means. Some are new, lots are old, all are unique or beautiful or unusual or in some other way have captured my fancy.

I looooove this one. And sympathise with the author, haha.