Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

Another masterpiece of the amazing Murakami. The book was published in 2002 and it brings to us the magic realism that Murakami is known for.

Short summary

  We have two main characters, which seems to be the case in most of Murakami’s works. One is the 15 year old Kafka Tamura, and the other one, an old man named Nakata.

  On his 15th birthday, Kafka decides that he should run away from home, which he does. He packs a few things, takes some money from home, and he hits the road. We learn that he lives only with his father. His mother left them with his sister when he was four years old. His father is not the best parent in the world, and that’s what makes Kafka to run away.

  A few weird things happen throughout his journey, and he ends up living in a private library. Here he meets a young boy named Oshima, and Miss Saeki. Even more weird things are happening to him, but I’ll leave that for you to find out.

  Nakata on the other hand, is a completely different story. He had an accident when he was very young. A very strange accident which left him, as he says, stupid and empty. He can’t read, he is old to work, but guess what, Mister Nakata can talk to cats. 

  Like Kafka, he also has a few adventures of his own, when finally, he goes out to find something. He doesn’t know what that is, but he is sure that once he sees it, he’ll know.

  Throughout the book the paths of the two characters are coming closer and closer but they always fail to meet.

This is one of the best works from Murakami. He leaves us with a few questions unanswered, and that is the beauty of it. He makes you believe in all those realities that twist your mind.

If you have never read Murakami, this would be a good place to start. And if you read it, I’m sure you have this piece of art on your reading list.

S.S.

PS: The photo is by Oneirio, on deviantart.

The Hobbit, or there and back again – J. R. R. Tolkien

The hobbit is a fantasy novel by Tolkien, published in 1937. This is the first book that is followed by a few more novels, set in Middle Earth, such as Lord of the Rings.

It is published as a children’s bed time story, but I’m sure the real fans are much older. It is written in the form of an epic quest that follows Bilbo Baggins’ first adventure. The book was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and won a prize from the New York Herald Tribune.

To this day, the book still remains popular and is considered a children’s classic.

Short summary

  As I mentioned, the story follows Bilbo Baggins’ journey to the Lonely Mountain. He is a hobbit, a fictional, diminutive, humanoid creature, and lives in a hole in Shire. He lives a peaceful life, but everything changes when Gandalf, a great wizard, pays him a visit. He makes him an offer to go on an adventure, which Bilbo, used to his lifestyle, does not accept. 

  Some time later he is visited by a number of dwarfs and Bilbo realizes that he was tricked by Gandalf into throwing this “party”. The dwarfs start telling him about their lost home in the Lonely Mountains, the dragon who chased them away, and their plan to take it back. The only thing they need now is a burglar who can open the back door of their home. And yes, that burglar is Bilbo. 

  He refuses the offer again, but in the morning he changes his mind and he goes on an adventure.

  The rest of the story is their long and hard journey, their confrontation with Smaug, the dragon, and the way back.

I love Tolkien’s work on Middle Earth. It’s very detailed, written really good and it has a certain dose of humor. This is not just a children’s book, this is something that everyone has to read.

The book was made into three movies, directed by Peter Jackson. The main characters are played by Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom… If you are asking me, three movies were too much for this book since there were parts and characters that don’t even exist in the book. All just to fill the three hours of the movies.

S.S.

A Song of Ice and Fire – G. R. R. Martin (part 3)

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords is the third book from the series. It was published in two parts. Part one, “Steel and Stone” was published in June 2001, and part two, “Blood and Gold”, in August the same year.

The novel won two awards, and it was nominated for the Hugo Award, the most prestigious award in fiction and fantasy publishing. It lost to “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”.

The first part was adapted as HBO’s Game of Thrones season three, and the second part was the base of the fourth season of the TV show.

The story, like in the previous books,  is told through the eyes of ten main characters.

Short summary, parts one and two (may contain spoilers from the previous books)

  The story continues where the previous book left off. We know that Catelyn Stark has Jamie Lannister as her captive. She trades his freedom for the release of her daughters Arya and Sansa. Jamie begins his journey to King’s Landing accompanied by Brienne of Tarth.

  The King of the North, Robb Stark, meets one Jeyne Westerling and he gets married with her. Doing this, he breaks his promise to wed one of Walder Frey’s daughters. When he and his army reach the Twins, the Freys’ home, it seems like Walder Frey has decided to forgive him for the broken promise, if one of is men marries one of his daughters instead. Everyone is fine with the decision, and they get ready for the wedding.

  Arya, and her friends from the previous book, meet the “Brotherhood Without Banners”. Here arrives the Hound, or Sandor Clegane, who we know from the previous books as Joffrey’s “knight”. He offers a trial by combat, and wins, killing Lord Beric Dondarion, one of the leaders of the Brotherhood. But, Beric is resurrected by the red priest, Thoros of Myr. This is the first time we see the powers of R’hollor.

  In King’s Landing we meet the Tyrells. Joffrey who was betrothed to Sansa Stark, decides that he wants to marry Marjory Tyrell. Sansa on the other hand is married to the Imp, Tyrion Lannister.

  Beyond the Wall, the Night’s Watch is attacked by the Others, the mythical creatures that were “asleep” for a thousand years, and undead wights, their brainless warriors. Samwell Tarly kills one of them using a blade made from dragonglass .

  Bran Stark, Hodor, Jojen and Meera are headed to the Wall, trying to find the Three Eyed Raven, the creature he sees in his dreams.

  Daenerys Targaryen is now headed for Pentos. In the cities of Slaver’s Bay she learns that she can buy a large slave army, so she exchanges one of her dragons for this army.

That is all that you will get from me. In this book there is one of the biggest plot twists in the series, but if you watched the show I’m sure you can guess it.

The book is much longer than the previous two, hence the two parts thing, but you won’t be able to leave it. There are some boring chapters, for me especially the ones from Davos’ point of view, but there are just three of four like those.

If you finished the previous two books, don’t stop there. The story gets more and more intense and as usual, the faith of the characters is not easy to predict.

S.S.

 

A Song of Ice and Fire – G. R. R. Martin (part 2)

A Clash of Kings

Clash of Kings is the second novel of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. It was published in 1998 in the United Kingdom, but the United States edition was not published until March, 1999.

Like the first novel, “A Clash of Kings” won the Locus Award in 1999. Also the novel was adapted as the second season of the HBO TV show Game of Thrones, as I’m sure you already know.

Short summary (this part may contain spoilers for the first novel)

  The story follows the events that took place in the first novel. As the king, Robert Baratheon dies, his son, and his two brothers claim their right to the throne. Joffrey Baratheon, the son of Robert, becomes the new king who sits on the Iron Throne, while Stannis, Robert’s older brother, declares himself as king of Westeros. So does his younger brother, Renly .

  Tyrion Lannister, known as the Imp, arrives in King’s Landing and becomes the new Hand of the King Joffrey.

  Next to Stannis is a new major character, the priestess Melisandre. She believes that Stannis is the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, a legendary hero who wielded the burning sword called Lightbringer. His reincarnation, in this case Stannis, is destined to defend the world from R’hollor’s (the god of Melisandre’s religion) nemesis, the Other. 

  Since Neddard Stark is killed, his oldest son, Robb Stark is the new king in the North. His younger brother, Bran, meets two new friends, Jojen and Meera (again, important characters).

  Arya, Neddard’s daughter, disguised as a boy named Arry, is taken north as a recruit for the Night’s Watch.

  On the Wall, a scouting party from the Brothers of the Night’s Watch finds out that the wildlings are uniting and getting ready to march south. They are under the command of Mance Rayder, known as the King beyond the Wall.

  Daenerys Targeryen, as we know from the previous book, is now the Mother of Dragons. Yes, we finally get to meet the dragons. She and her three newly hatched dragons are heading east through the city of Quarth. She is accompanied by Jorah Mormont, her adviser, and the few people of the Dothraki that decided to follow her after Khal Drogo’s death.

This is, in short, the beginning of the adventures of the characters in the second novel. As usual, there are a few plot twists and unexpected turns. This is by far my favorite novel from the series. A lot happens to everyone, and every character seems to grow and mature in this book. And of course, there is no way to predict what awaits for everyone of them.

S.S.

 

 

A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin (part 1)

A Game of Thrones

It’s not so strange that the most popular TV show is based on a book series. A really good book series.

The first book was published in 1996, and knowing that after 20 years the series is still not finished, I think that George Martin is not in a hurry. However, the first book, A Game of Thrones,was nominated and won a few award in its time, such as the Locus Award in 1997.

The author uses several points of view to tell us the story about the war for the Iron Throne between the noble families in Westeros.

Short summary

  The first book starts when lord Eddard Stark, executes a deserter from the Night’s Watch. The Night’s Watch is consisted of people, mostly of them criminals, called Brothers of the Night’s Watch. Their job is to protect The Wall, a big structure made of ice (and magic) whose purpose is to protect the Seven Kingdoms from whatever lies beyond it.

  The deserter tries to explain that the Others, mythical, evil creatures, have returned. But no one believes him since they were gone for almost a thousand years.

  Soon afterwards Eddard Stark receives a word that Jon Arryn, the hand of King Robert Baratheon, is dead. Also, King Robert comes for a visit in Westeros.

  King Robert is an old friend of Eddard’s, so he asks him to replace Jon Arryn as the next hand of the king. Eddard accepts the offer, and soon he and his daughters, Arya and Sansa, leave for Kings Landing. 

  While Robert is at Winterfell, Eddard’s youngest son, Bran, accidentally sees Cersei, Robert’s wife, and Jamie, her brother, in coitus. When Jamie sees him, he pushes Bran over the window. This accident leaves Bran paralyzed.

  In this book, we also meet the Targaryens, Viserys and Daenerys. Their father, known as the Mad King, was overthrown by Robert Baratheon, and now the two of them only have each other. Trying to gain his place as a king back, Viserys betroths his sister to Khal Drogo, warlord of the Dothraki. In return, Drogo’s army will help him fight Robert Baratheon.

  On the day of the wedding, Daenerys gets three petrified dragon eggs as a gift. This gift is symbolic, since the Targaryens once ‘ruled’ with dragons, before all of them were killed.

This is pretty much how the story goes in the first book. Throughout the story you will see a lot of plot-twists, and the first book, of course, ends with a cliffhanger.

The first book is not that big, so you wouldn’t have a problem reading it. The story is amazing, the characters are built in great details. There is no main character so you couldn’t possibly know what will happen or who will die next.

If you like the show, then you must read the books.

S.S.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs (1)

Since the Tim Burton’s movie is a thing now, I though about writing about the book behind it, and honestly, it’s not that great.

It does look creepy, and cool. A good idea and a bunch of pictures between pages, but it’s far from good. I’m guessing the book was meant for little children, but I think those pictures would scare a little child.

The setting of the story reminds me of Charles’ Xavier Home for Gifted Youngsters (the X-men). You have some kids with special abilities, nobody likes them, so you put them all in a special home made just for them. Put some bad guys in the story, and there you go!

  Short summary

  The main character is Jacob Portman, a 16 year-old boy from America. Since he was very young, his grandfather had told him stories about when he was young, and about the war. In the stories were these children with strange abilities. One of them was invisible, the other had super-human strength, other one could fly, and so on and so on. They were all settled in this orphanage, and one miss Peregrine was their ‘headmaster’.  

  Jacob, of course, thought that his grandfather is very good at telling stories, and that all of that was his imagination. But, after he is being killed, turns out everything was real.

  So Jacob and his father go to the place where the orphanage is supposed to be, and this is where the fun starts.

  Jacob finds the orphanage in ruins, so he loses all his hope about the stories being real. But soon he discovers an entrance that leads him to this ‘time loop’. A safe-place for his grandfather’s friend. And what’s more strange is that they haven’t aged a day.

If you want to know the rest, feel free to read the book, or watch the movie.

All in all, not the best book I have read, but also not the worst. I can surely say that this time I liked the movie better.

S.S.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

I will start off with my favorite dialogue from the book. It’s from the chapter ‘A Mad Tea-Party’. It’s between Alice and the Mad Hatter (you know him).

  ‘We quarrelled last March – just before he went mad, you know –  ‘(pointing with his teaspoon at the March Hare) ‘ – it was at the great concert given by the Queen of Hearts, and I had to sing.

… (I skipped the song that the Hatter sang)

  ‘Well, I’d hardly finished the first verse’, said the Hatter, ‘when the Queen jumped up and bawled out, “He’s murdering the time! Off with his head!” ‘

  ‘How dreadfully savage!’ exclaimed Alice.

  ‘And ever since that’, the Hatter went on in a mournful tone, ‘he won’t do a thing I ask! It’s always six o’clock now.’

  A bright idea came into Alice’s head. ‘It’s the reason so many tea-things are put out here?’, she asked.

  ‘Yes, that’s it’, said the Hatter with a sigh: ‘it’s always teatime, and we’ve no time to wash the thing between whiles.’

My grandmother used to read this to me when I was little. Sometimes she even drew the pictures from the book for me. The story was fun when I was young, but now all I can say is that this book is crazy. Although it’s meant for children, this is my favorite book.

I’m sure you’ve all watched the Disney version of Alice, and maybe even some of the movies. So, we all know what happens. But anyway, here’s a

  Short summary

  While Alice and her sister are sitting on a riverbank, a white rabbit passes right by them. The strange thing is that the rabbit wears a waistcoat and pulls out a pocket watch exclaiming that he is late!

  Alice decides to follow him, and the next thing she knows, she is falling down a rabbit hole. And this is where her adventure in Wonderland starts.

  She meets very strange creatures, a rabbit with a pocket watch, a Cheshire cat that speaks and disappears, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, a baby that turns into a pig… 

  And, she also changes her size a few times.

While reading this I am sure that you will ask yourself, what kind of drugs did the author used.

It’s not important if you know the whole story, you must read this.

PS: The photo is from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland movie (2010)

S.S.