Hey, hello, books & goodbye

Long time no see! As ever, I’m a lousy blogger. Sorry to say, that doesn’t seem to change at all…
Anyhoo, I’ve been reading this book for a school assignment, and since I’ve pestered most of my friends about it I thought why not pester my blog with it too. I’ve had my eye on it for a while but the 600 pages was enough to make me reconsider. When my teacher then said we had to read memoirs, I saw my chance an instantly grabbed this one. Normally, I’m a little hesitant to memoirs, since I’ve thought they are quite boring…? I prefer a completely made-up story, thank you very much. 
What caught my interest is that it’s not the story of a famous person or something alike, rather history through the eyes of witness. The book is about the cultural revolution in China during the 1966 and continuing for the following 10 years, i. e China when Mao Zedong and his Communist Party ruled. Sadly to say, I knew nothing of this until I read this. Absolutely nothing, except that there was something called the Cultural Revolution (and we like to think of ourselves as globalized youths, haha. It’s ridiculous when I think of the half-year I spent in ninth grade reading about WW2 and the holocaust to the extent that I can’t stand reading about it now, and the teacher didn’t even manage to mention “Oh yeah, a great deal of Chinese people died during the 1960’s. Just thought you should know.” What even??). 
This book is so horrible. I feel so ignorant and stupid for having missed something as terrible as this. It’s horrible because the author lines up event after event of assaults, public humiliation, oppression, beatings and murders. There’s no end to them, they just keep coming. It truly is frightening when you realize that this was the reality for some, a reality that was their only life. Therefore, this book is painful to go through, but it’s so worth it. I’ve barely made it halfway and I can’t stop reading it because it’s so revolting, illuminating intriguing at the same time, that you can’t let it go. 

…and I realized I haven’t even mentioned the name of it yet. It’s called “Rött Land, Röd Jord – En flickas uppväxt i Maos Kina” by Ming Wang-Sonnerup (basically “Red Land, Red Earth – A girls upbringing in Mao’s China”. Sadly, I don’t think it’s translated to English.
I don’t know if I should write a full review of it when I’m finished? Oh well, we’ll see about that.

“The 3 July and 24 July proclamations are Chairman Mao’s great strategic plans! Unite with forces that can be united with to strike surely, accurately and relentlessly at the handful of class enemies”

 

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Post book challenge thoughts

Unlike many of you might have thought, it’s not a relief to have finished this challenge. Not at all. I’ve been angst-ing more than usual this last week, knowing that I won’t read a book a week no more. I mean, there’s so much time I’ve put into reading this last year. What will I do with that time now? I’m sure it’s something useless and non-productive. The amount of time I’ve already spend reading though, I can’t even begin to imagine. Kinda proud of myself right now.

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I can’t believe I’ve already done this for an entire year. Even so, it feels like I didn’t get to read the books I wantedto read at all. Rather, it feels like my  “books I want to read list” has grown instead of shrunk. I mean, what the heck? That’s not fair. I guess when you really get into books you start to find new ones you want to read continuously.

Though, I do think the timing of the challenge end is great. I’m in my last year of school, no, not even that, way into the last semester of school, and I suspect I’ll need to time to finish all work that probably going to be coming my way in spring. Still, I will miss reading and rejoice. It could be such a pain if it wasn’t a book I necessarily wanted to read but had to since I had to choose something for this week, and/or it was short enough so I would’ve been able to finish on time (monday) even if I had school work to do. However, I got to read so many great books this year. Even those I didn’t like was worth reading, just for the experience. And let’s not forget, the ones the that completely blew your expectations away and stunned you. There’s not a single read I regret.
Well, the exception might be this one…

I can’t help but to feel a bit angsty though. I get stressed out when I think about not having finished a book until tomorrow. Really, it’s almost like I’ll burst into panic mode and crash my library now even if it’s long since closed. But, it seems I can’t get away from reading for a while. Just a few days ago, a friend practically threw a book at me and said “read this.” Apparently, I don’t have a choice in the matter? Youths today.

I might have complained so far, but in the end, it’s worth it. It was incredibly fun and enjoyable, and I wouldn’t hesitate into trying to make someone else do it. It’s loads of fun, and I can’t help but to wonder what I’ll spend my time doing instead of reading. Maybe I’ll find a new challenge in time, or I’ll take up this one again. Who knows.

 

Week 52 – Book 52 – “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells

Oh my gosh, last book! Last book! I am finally finished!

Well, this was quite an interesting read. Amusing and eye-opening. Not amazed though. It sort of reminds me of “A Journey to the Center of the Earth” in parts, and I despise that book. This is because it has several segments where he describes the things from natural scientific perspective, which seriously bores me. There’s a significant difference in writing literature and painting up an image and simply describe how something looks. If you just stay to the materials physical properties, it’ll end up like a fact book, with its only contents being pure knowledge. I detest when people write a novel and do this. It’s horrible to read, kills your interest and makes the book an immense flatness, no depth at all.

This was only in some parts though. I first though the book was going to be made out of segments though history and not share any similarities at all. I was wrong. It was basically one journey, one that stirs up trouble for him though. While not being incredibly intriguing, it do describe a potential path of human mankind. I don’t think it’s a path many would’ve image, which I think is kinda interesting. However, this certain path isn’t really…that interesting. It’s somewhat cool that he manage to come up with it and so, but it lacks something vital to make it really great.

Also, the last time travel part I’ve had trouble seeing the need of. Except him being in a rush of escaping, I do not see it’s purpose at all. Either that or showing how the world will end up eventually. I wouldn’t say that the book is bad though, mediocre would be a better word. I’m not amazed or anything like that. It’s just another read that I’ll remember for a short while and in time forget. Though, I’m think that this kind of read is needed at times. Everything can’t be exceptional and mind-blowing.

 

 

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Week 51 – Book 51 – “the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

Originally planned to read “the Two Towers” and then realized the mountain of homework piling up wasn’t going to disappear by itself. A little magic to help it do so though, would’ve been appreciated.

So yeah, I read “the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” instead.

The hardest question to this book is “what is it about?”, to which I snickered in response and said “I have absolutely no idea”. Because it’s true. This book is so random and all over the place, that trying to explain in words what it’s about becomes extremely difficult. I could for short say that it’s about a guy lost in space, or the story of Arthur Dent who becomes victim of some unfortunate events regarding his native planet. Either explanation does not actually tell what the story’s about, since the content  is so rapid and happens by chance that it’s hard to keep up with it. You read it, you enjoy it, but you will probably be confused as hell. In a positive way. The kind of confusion where you simply laugh and feel more wacky than usual, and is the most pleasurable.

I do not find it as hilarious as others seem though. I mean, there were parts where I laughed out loud (for instance, the part with the mattress being dead…most of the time), but not quite what I expected. Don’t misinterpret: it is funny, no doubt about it. I would rank it on par with Terry Pratchett (whom I seem to compare with everything nowadays?), though their individual style is slightly different. I think I had really high expectations of it since everyone seems to like it so much.

 

And my head currently feels like it’s stuffed with cotton, so I’ll just stop now before going out of context. Over and out.

 

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Week 50 – Book 50 – “The Lies of Locke Lamora” by Scott Lynch

I’ve glanced at this book for a while, though scared away by the thickness of it (since  I also has school to keep up with as well as reading).

“The Lies of Locke Lamora” is placed in the city of Camorr, a city of thieves. Here, the thieves steal from the common folk, who in turn get robbed by Capa Barsavi. There’s no way to avoid stealing, whether it may be the merchants, the thieves, the nobles or even the Duke himself who’s the robber. It is set in an environment resembling 16th century Italy imaginatively mixed with brutality of a city ruled by the mob. Our main character, Locke Lamora, is somewhat of a professional con artist, who specializes in stealing from nobles – not for the sake of money, but for the sake of stealing.  He and his group of ‘Gentlemen Bastards’, a group of young men all nurtured to their current thievery by a man named Father Chains, who taught them the life of a classy thief, spend their time stealing from nobles with surprisingly cunning schemes.

The story vary between two plot lines: the current situation and the boys’ childhood while growing up with Father Chains. This gives the author a splendid reason, a reason hated by the reader, to end the current chapter with one hell of a cliffhanger. Though, these small breaks often serve to explain matters and consequently give the author hints to what will happen next. (However,  I would love if someone could explain what that break with the ball game brought to the story, except perhaps a little humour).
I think Scott Lynch manage to string together a magnificent story that involves humour (partly resembling that of Terry Pratchett’s book while not being as crude as his might be), savagery, revenge, a slight steampunk feel, with the wit of a skilled con artist. While still having gruesome details (for instance, people being drowned in horse piss and heads being mauled by glass pieces) and several gory parts, it manages to keep the brutality to a tolerable level. It is not a simply story of violence and death. In fact, Locke himself avoids combat preferably, and doesn’t like to kill, a skill he’s neither fond of or proficient at.

Easily making its way to my top 10 most loved series list, “The Lies of Locke Lamora” is an excellent tale. I absolutely adored the prologue and its way of keeping the reader’s interest up. The story doesn’t develop until a few 100 pages into the book, but in the meantime it serves to expand the readers knowledge and make threads to later tie together, accordingly deepening the story. Being intriguing, amusing, mournful and even revolting at times, it captures the reader in a brilliant tale without basically any tiresome parts. Locke, who’s on neither side of the battle taking place in the city but still at both, gets thrown into the events of the city headfirst, endangering everything he holds dear, namely the Gentlemen Bastards themselves. While a fantasy book, magic is not the prominent feature. Rather, it’s the bonds between a group of orphans brought together by chance, or perhaps an old blind priest with hidden talents.

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Week 49 – Book 49 – “The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkien

For a long time, I’ve thought of reading this book. It’s a shame to call yourself a fan of the fantasy genre and still haven’t read this books – it’s like the bible of fantasy nerds.

 

And so? For starters it’s very long. Very. I thought 500 pages wasn’t so bad, but every page contain incredibly rich descriptions of landscapes, conversations and just pondering of the main character. This takes so much time to read and comprehend, that it felt like I read for ages. I started a bit late (I hadn’t even finished the introduction on Thursday) , so basically I read more than half of the book on Sunday. I spent hours reading this book, and it still felt as if I hadn’t moved on at all. Approximately halfway through the book, they’re out of the Shire.  It’s unbelievable how slow things  move in this book.
Though, the author still succeeds in making it interesting. Interesting  where you find yourself unconsciously wanting to continue reading. Even if it’s a bit slow paced (I suspect I can blame the film for this opinion), it’s still interesting. The slow paced nature makes it more enjoyable and not rushed. It contains additional details and events that the film didn’t bring up, that makes the novel deeper and more vivid. Tolkien has built his book that Middle-earth is not only a world – it’s a universe. Names of unknown places and people or mentioned all the time, and you have no idea who or what they might be, their history and their current state. This can be somewhat annoying at times, since you’ll easily lose yourself in the  abundance of names. Though most of the time, it’s a nice way of immersing the reader and bring some additional background details to the story.

 

While having a distinctive difference from “the Hobbit”, it still harbours the magical feeling. I love the way the author makes the landscape seem alive, especially the forests. Even if they don’t act independently and actively, they still feel presence and butt in when they feel like it. It’s moderately exciting, on a personal level, but I long for a bigger conflict. I know it’s coming my way, but I think people can find it drawn-out with only small conflicts and events.
One thing I noted is that you can really read the characters. If the author want to show some hidden feature of the character, it will be quite visible. It’s not hard to spot changes in demeanour, for instance, Boromor, Legolas and Gimli. A lot of songs are present in the book, and sometimes they contribute to the story, and sometimes they don’t make any difference at all.

 

Summary: a lovely book with a captivating story, world and characters, though basically 50 % of it being scenery descriptions. Now, the questions is, should I continue reading all three of them?

 

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Week 48 – Book 48 – “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë

My problem with this book is the lack of purpose. I mean, pretty much everyone in this book behave like complete douche bags in one way or another. Someone is hurting, either because of something someone caused or just by living, and then they take it out on a person, preferably the one who hurt you. And then, they continue to suffer and sulking over the state of the world.  And then they end up happy, after everyone who was involved in the first dispute died.
Quite an ending, right? I hope I’ve explained comprehensible so you’ll see what I’m getting at, because I’m having a hard time pinpointing it myself. I just think that after every single quarrel,  incident and fight, I expected something more. It felt as an extremely null and somewhat abrupt ending, like someone concluded a book with “…and then they married and spent their rest of their days in happiness”. So disappointing.

Otherwise, I think it’s a genuinely good book, as Jane Eyre was. If you’re looking for a quality read, the Brontë sisters is something for you. This might be based on my habit of reading YA novels, but I think it succeeds in having rich descriptions and conversations without making them too long. I didn’t pause and think that a part was to boring to make my way through.  Like Jane Eyre, the book was written excellently with finesse. What kinda put me off was that the narration begun at the end and thus not chronologically (though it was retold), which spoiled things a bit when you knew how things would end up, although not how it did unravel as it did.

I think the character Heathcliff is the center of the story and what drives it forward. Everything revolves around him, and he is the main cause of the book’s events. I can’t relate to him though. All he do is spew his hatred on everyone who comes in his path, except for the grand exception of Catherine that he loves. I think his part in the ending was quite odd, though I can’t see how it would’ve ended up otherwise. He had achieved what he wanted and desired for all his life, and had hence lived his whole life.

 

Summary: still amazed by the sisters Brontë. I’d hate to draw the family tree of the characters in the book though. That’s a quest on it’s own.

 

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