Bookshelf: 2014 (1/2)

(The original post can be found here. (German))

A review of all the books I've read in 2014.
Unfortunately I forgot to take notes on most of them, hahaha. But I've tried to remember at least some things about them. And maybe you'll find your next book. :)

Orlando by Virginia Woolf
"Orlando tells the tale of an extraordinary individual who lives through centuries of English history, first as a man, then as a woman; of his/her encounters with queens, kings, novelists, playwrights, and poets, and of his/her struggle to find fame and immortality not through actions, but through the written word. At its heart are the life and works of Woolf's friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West, and Knole, the historic home of the Sackvilles. But as well as being a love letter to Vita, Orlando mocks the conventions of biography and history, teases the pretensions of contemporary men of letters, and wryly examines sexual double standards." [Source: Amazon]

Score: ★★★★✰

I found out about Virginia Woolf in a very weird way. When I was a teenager I surfed on the internet and looked for actors, writers and other widely known people who shared me birthday. Mrs. Woolf who suffered from depressions and anxieties all her life was one of them. Two years ago I finally bought some of her books.

Source: Goodreads
World War Z by Max Brooks
"World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is an apocalyptic horror novel by Max Brooks. The novel is a collection of individual accounts narrated by an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission, following the devastating global conflict against the zombie plague. Other passages record a decade-long desperate struggle, as experienced by people of various nationalities. The personal accounts also describe the resulting social, political, religious, and environmental changes." [Source: Wikipedia]

Score: ★★★✰✰

This is one of the books I've actually read in english. For the other entry I looked up the German version and it took me a while to find it since the title is different. In German it's called "Operation Zombie: Wer länger lebt, ist später tot" (Operation Zombie: Those who live longer, die later). I really don't know why but in Germany stuff like this is often done with books or movies. Personally I would have thought this was more a comical take on the zombie genre if I would have bought it in my mother tongue. On the other hand I've been a lot more annoyed me the movie. Unbelievable 8479834 km away from the original. With a better director and script writer this could have been an interesting mixture of a zombie movie and a documentary.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
"[The book] is written in the voice of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in North America. The Capitol, a highly advanced metropolis, exercises political control over the rest of the nation. The Hunger Games is an annual event in which one boy and one girl aged 12–18 from each of the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle to the death." [Source: Wikipedia]

Score: ★★★★★

If there is a hype around something I tend to take a big step back from it but the story really made me curious. And before watching the movie, I had to read the book.

Flesh House by Stuart MacBride
"The city is in a state of fear. Some 20 years ago, the Grampian police nailed a particularly vicious serial killer known as The Flesher, a monster who had claimed victims throughout the country. But one of those frequent legal appeals which so often release dangerous criminals into the community has freed him, and when a container with human body parts appears at Aberdeen harbour, it looks like the stage is once again set for carnage on a massive scale. DS Logan McRae (along with his less experienced colleague, Chief Constable Mark Faulds from Birmingham -- who was on the original team tracking down The Flesher), finds himself in charge of one of the most ambitious manhunts city has ever seen. And then members of the original team tracking down their serial killer prey (whose real name is Ken Wiseman) begin to disappear -- and more human meat is making grisly appearances. All of this is delivered with the requisite grasp of tension and characterisation that we have come to expect from Stuart MacBride. There are those who will feel he has gone too far in Flesh House in confronting the less savoury aspects of human behaviour, but fans of uncompromising crime writing will be in their element." [Source: Goodreads]
Score: ★★★★✰

I like psycho thrillers like these. As well as classic crime stories but I think it's just as big a thrill (or sometimes even more) if it gets more graphic and not just about murder and homicide. The human psyche is a really exciting topic. To be honest I don't remember much of the story anymore but I really enjoyed the selfmade clippings with photos of friends the author used for the story. A very cool idea.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
"Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey ‘there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.
The prelude to The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies since its publication in 1937, establishing itself as one of the most beloved and influential books of the twentieth century." [Source: Goodreads]

Score: ★★★★★

I remember starting to read The Lord of thr Rings circa ten years ago and the description of the The Shire bored me so much, I gave up on it. By now I've read all of them and I love them so so much. Naturally I had to read The Hobbit as well and at that time the first movie was already playing in the theatres. But you know me. Always like to read the books first. Personally I thought that The Hobbit really sounded more like an old fairytale rather than a fantasy story and that's what I like about it. And there are still some Tolkiens in my shelf, waiting to be read.

A Game of Thrones (#1) by George R.R. Martin
"In A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin has created a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantansy fans everywhere.

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones." [Source: Goodreads]

Score: ★★★★★

I only read the first book in english. (Fun fact: In Germany, every book is made into two. So we don't have five, we have ten. Guess to make more money, jo.) The score is for all of the book since I did not take any notes while I read each of them. And to be honest, there is happening so much in every book, I just could not remember anything or tell you what happened in which book exactly, hahaha. The characters, the style of writing, all these story lines and carefully spined webs, the construction of the story. I love it. (Except reading the wort "rape" like 100.000 times in just one book. And there are a few things more I have my doubts and criticism about. E.g. Daenerys and Drogo.)

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
"Sumire is in love with a woman seventeen years her senior. But whereas Miu is glamorous and successful, Sumire is an aspiring writer who dresses in an oversized second-hand coat and heavy boots like a character in a Kerouac novel.
Sumire spends hours on the phone talking to her best friend K about the big questions in life: what is sexual desire, and should she ever tell Miu how she feels for her? Meanwhile K wonders whether he should confess his own unrequited love for Sumire.

Then, a desperate Miu calls from a small Greek island: Sumire has mysteriously vanished..." [Source: Goodreads]

Score: ★★★★✰

I do love Murakami but something about this book did not thrilled me as much as his other works. I just do not remember what exactly that was.

Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris
"Hannibal Lecter emerges from the nightmare of the Eastern Front, a boy in the snow, mute, with a chain around his neck. He seems utterly alone, but he has brought his demons with him. Hannibal’s uncle, a noted painter, finds him in a Soviet orphanage and brings him to France, where Hannibal will live with his uncle and his uncle’s beautiful and exotic wife, Lady Murasaki. Lady Murasaki helps Hannibal to heal. With her help he flourishes, becoming the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France. But Hannibal’s demons visit him and torment him. When he is old enough, he visits them in turn. He discovers he has gifts beyond the academic, and in that epiphany, Hannibal Lecter becomes death’s prodigy." [Source: Goodreads]

Score: ★★✰✰✰

This book disappointed me so. fucking. much. While I was really carried away and drawn into Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs and stayed awake all night to read a chapter, then another and then another one, until I thought "Okay, just this one" and then read another five, I wanted to throw this book into a corner of my room at least every two pages. 
The story does not really seem like Harris was forced to recount how Dr. Lecter became what he is, but as if he was bored and a couple of thousand dollars more on his bank account would look kinda cool. Everything seems so half-hearted and dashed off. Some of the basic approaches and ideas actually were really good but if I try to imagine this big and thick hardcover as a normal softcover without all those pretty broad rims and twenty miles of space between the lines... that spine can't be very much thinker that my pinky finger. And as a reader I spotted missing details by an author who is actually so keen on them. In every of the other books of this series a peculiarity about Hannibal Lecter is mentioned. He was born with polydactylia and has six fingers on his left hand but in this book it is not mentioned once. Someone on Amazon wrote a short text about details like this (unfortunately in German). I just don't want to talk about this anymore. Ugh. 

Hannibal by Thomas Harris
"Years after his escape, posing as scholarly Dr. Fell, curator of a grand family's palazzo, Hannibal lives the good life in Florence, playing lovely tunes by serial killer/composer Henry VIII and killing hardly anyone himself. Clarice is unluckier: in the novel's action-film-like opening scene, she survives an FBI shootout gone wrong, and her nemesis, Paul Krendler, makes her the fall guy. Clarice is suspended, so, unfortunately, the first cop who stumbles on Hannibal is an Italian named Pazzi, who takes after his ancestors, greedy betrayers depicted in Dante's Inferno. Pazzi is on the take from a character as scary as Hannibal: Mason Verger. When Verger was a young man busted for raping children, his vast wealth saved him from jail. All he needed was psychotherapy--with Dr. Lecter. Thanks to the treatment, Verger is now on a respirator, paralyzed except for one crablike hand, watching his enormous, brutal moray eel swim figure eights and devour fish. His obsession is to feed Lecter to some other brutal pets." [Source: Goodreads]

Score: ★★★★✰

Aw, konnichi wa Kurarisu-chan.

Accurate memories about this book got lost somewhere in the twists of my brain. But while Lecter is more of a minor character in the first two books, he's sharing the major lead with Ms. Starling. It is giving us a good inside of his way of thinking and living. I don't want to spoil the end for anyone but personally I did like the ending of the movie a lot more. I like both endings and both got their appeal but the ending of the book does get quite too long for my taste, instead of breaking off abruptly and leaving everything open to your imagination just like in the movie. On the other hand I enjoyed the conversations between Clarice and Hannibal.

Source: Goodreads
A Clash of Kings (#2) by G.R.R. Martin
"Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over an age of enforced peace are dead...victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard's son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King's Landing. Robert's two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.
A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and wartime. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.
Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory may be measured in blood. And the spoils of victory may just go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when rulers clash, all of the land feels the tremors.
Audacious, inventive, brilliantly imagined, A Clash of Kings is a novel of dazzling beauty and boundless enchantment;a tale of pure excitement you will never forget." [Source: Goodreads]

Score: ★★★★★

From this novel on, I read the ebooks in German.

The Firm by John Grisham
When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage, and hired him a decorator. Mitch McDeere should have remembered what his brother Ray-- doing fifteen years in a Tennessee jail-- already knew. You never get nothing for nothing. Now the FBI has the lowdown on Mitch's firm and needs his help. Mitch is caught between a rock and a hard place, with no choice-- if he wants to live... [Source: Goodreads]
Score: ★★✰✰✰

My rant can be found here.

Source: Goodreads
See: A Clash of Kings by G.R.R. Martin

Score: ★★★★★
☞ Part Two.

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