Wednesday, December 9, 2015

November and December 2015 Reading List

For some reason, I’ve been really into reading recently. That may sound obvious coming from me. But I mean: really into reading.

The weird thing, though, is that almost everything I’ve read recently has been very out-of-character for me. (Not every single book, but most of them.) Many of the books I’ve read are not books that I would normally ever have considered reading before. Since Halloween, I’ve foregone the high quality I usually aim for in literature, and just devoured some much more silly/just-for-fun books. I guess I’ve just being reading…guilty pleasures(?) Something like that, at least.

Oddly, since Halloween, I haven’t read any books unless they were mass-market paperbacks (with the exception of manga, which have their own size to them). Even books that sounds appealing to me right now, I won’t read unless they’re in mass-market-paperback form. Weird. I can't explain it.

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So then. Since Halloween, I have read:

Novels & Novellas…

Shutter Island by Denis Lehane - 5/5
Of all the books I’m listing here, this is the first I read. And, at this point, it’s still by far the best of them all. I had already seen and loved the movie. The movie is actually very faithful to the book—rare. The book is very well written. Strong, believable characters. Absolutely great pacing—something you really don’t want to put down. And, of course, it remains a twisty, wonderfully psychological story.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut - 4/5

Congo by Michael Crichton - 3/5

The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - 4/5
I actually read this once before, I believe about 8 years ago. I don’t remember having much of an opinion of it back then, but I thought it was rather interesting this time around. Very eerie. Good use of setting, and, of course, Mr. Kurtz remains a deeply interesting character.

Batman Arkham Knight: the Riddler’s Gambit by Alex Irvine - 2.5/5

Lost Horizon by James Hinton - 3.5/5
I was attracted to this because it takes place in Tibet. It’s nothing at all like the real Tibet, but it was still a cool, unique story. And the main character is one of the most well fleshed-out characters I’ve encountered in quite a long time (definitely the strongest character from all the books in this list, at least).

47 Ronin by Joan D. Vinge - 4.5/5
Now here’s an interesting one…this is, in fact, a novelization of the recent Keanu Reeves movie, which was universally panned. Keep in mind that this means the book came after the movie. I, on the other hand, actually read this book before seeing the movie. (I’ve since watched the movie.) That said, the book was GREAT. Very strongly written. Despite being the longest book out of this whole list, I breezed through it in about two days. A cool story, all about honor and integrity. Good emotional impact. The movie was...pretty bad. It didn’t go into the characterizations nearly as well as the book, and much of the emotional impact was lessened, or absent altogether. The movie was just an excuse for action; the book was a powerful story. Definitely—perhaps surprisingly—the second best book (after Shutter Island) in this list.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm by Greg Keyes - 1.5/5
Not very good. Also, it had more typos than possibly any other published book I’ve read. My goodness, that editor should have lost his job over this.

Batman Arkham Knight by Marv Wolfman - 2/5

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King - 3.5/5
The writing is good. The story is good. But, surprisingly, the movie is actually better. Much more satisfying, and the arrangement of the scenes is a bit better structured. Still a good plot though, and the characters are probably equally strong (in both the book and the movie).


Final Fantasy Type-0 - 3.5/5

Final Fantasy Type-0: the Ice Reaper 1 - 4.5/5
Final Fantasy Type-0: the Ice Reaper 2 - 4.5/5
These are pretty fun, but if you’re not a fan of the Final Fantasy games already (or of manga), then there probably isn’t much here to appeal to you. I’m excited to continue the Ice Reaper series though.

Wolf Children by Mamoru Hosoda - 5/5
Absolutely, positively wonderful. Beautiful. Not much to say about it beyond that. A great manga for people who may not really care for manga.

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji - 4.5/5

Books I started but didn't finish...

Mortal Kombat by Jeff Rovin
Yes, this is a novel based on the video games. Bizarre tidbit about me: of ALL the books I own, this is the book I’ve owned the longest. Very weird, I know. Of all books, why this one? I read it when I first bought it (1993), and remember liking it. I dug it out of the closet last month, gave it another go, and, after about 60 pages, decided I’d rather just leave it as a fond memory.

The Thousand and One Ghosts by Alexandre Dumas
Read about half of it. Pretty interesting and well-written, just not what I’m currently in the mood for. 

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Read the first 30 or so pages. Even for Jane Austen, this one is especially well-written. Rather humorous, too. I only set it aside because, like Thousand and One Ghosts, it's not what I'm in the mood for right now.

Borderlands: Unconquered by John Shirley
Read about 30-40 pages. Horrible. Just…horrible.

Vampire Hunter D 3: Demon Deathchase by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Read about half. Meh.

Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami
Read about 30-40 pages. The setting is very visual, eerie, and well-developed. However, there are a few things about it that bother me, of which I will only mention two:
1)      Personally, I don’t like biographical fiction. I don’t want to read about a fictional character’s entire life. Just isolate the days/months/years most relevant to the overall story and give me those.
2)      If you’re ever going to read it: absolutely, whatever you do, SKIP PAGE 1. Just start on page 2. It’s okay; you won’t miss out on anything important to the story. Trust me. The images described on page 1 are just…not okay. I really wish I could unsee them.  I sort of feel angry that Murakami included them at all; I haven’t quite forgiven him for that yet—hence why I decided to set this aside for now.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrams
Read 30-40 pages (I guess that’s about how long it takes for me to come up with a basic opinion on a book…) Fun and quirky. Well written, but a little too cutesy for me right now. 

Again, this is everything I’ve read just since Halloween. I’ve been very, very busy.

Currently, I’m reading…

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
A little over halfway through so far. Interesting, intense story. Different spin on the vampire mythos. Not very well written though. The characters aren’t terribly well-crafted. And Chuck Hogan likes his thesaurus a little too much. I’m interested enough in the story to check out the other two books in the trilogy, but I’m not in a hurry to do so. (And no, I haven't watched the TV show based on these books.)

And, finally, my next book will (probably) be…

Shogun by James Clavell (I just ordered it though, and it’s possible it may not arrive until a few days after I finish the Strain. In which case, I may read one other book in the meantime. Not sure what…)

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So there you have it. :) 


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